Monday, July 27, 2015

Growing Patience & Self-Imposed Deadlines

I have written about self-imposed deadlines at the Alley before...I am pretty sure it's a struggle for many aspiring authors. We aren't held to a contract or have an editor pushing us along. But we are anxious to get this writing career going and want to get the submission-ball rolling. At least, that's how I feel most of the time.

Self-imposed deadlines are great goal-setting tools. I enjoy writing toward something; holding myself accountable to my writing time; keeping in mind that near future date so I stick to the story and don't allow non-writing things get in the way (well, the non-important non-writing things like Facebook and retail therapy).

There is another benefit to self-imposed deadlines, though. And that is the flexibility to change the
date if need be. Recently, I surprised myself after a decade of my publishing pursuit, when I met my self-imposed deadline with a complete manuscript...and then..I didn't hit send on that date. I wanted to be sure it was where it needed to be, not when I wanted it to go out.

You know your patience has grown when you pass up a self-imposed deadline to get it right.

It's a fine line to know when to hit send and when to pause for another read-thru. Sometimes, we peck our stories to death and tweak and tweak and suck the joy—and perhaps the voice—out of the story. There's a lot of fear and guts and vulnerability in hitting send. So those self-imposed deadlines can give us that courage.

But, sometimes, that self-imposed deadline should become more of a checkpoint than an end. I took another week after my last deadline and did a read-thru and more tweaking. I am so glad I did. That fear and vulnerability died with my cut lines and deleted commas.

How about you? Do you set deadlines and ever pass them up to get it right?
Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written six historical novels and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at, her personal blog at and connect at:
Twitter: @angiedicken


Joanne Sher said...

I am a huge believer in self imposed deadlines. They absolutely keep me motivated. Letting them go can definitely be a struggle - but i am getting better. Great post!

kaybee said...

I have self-imposed deadlines, not by the day or even the week because of my crazy schedule, but in chunks of time. For example, I want to have a draft done of one of my WIPs by September, then I'll switch projects and work on another one. I rotate. If I don't have deadlines I get bogged down. Also, I think it's important to impose the discipline on yourself so you'll be ready when the Call comes. I am working on two drafts of two sequels of two works that aren't published yet. I am working on the sequels so I'll be ready if the first books get contracts. It's risky, but everything is these days.
Kathy Bailey

Robin E. Mason said...

i've learned so much since publishing novel #1 [Tessa] - setting goals and deadlines is not something that comes naturally to me, and i'm ever so thankful being an Indie for that reason. i had set an unreasonable goal of having my sequel [Clara Bess] all done and published in June - alas, it didn't happen. health reasons [nothing to do with dallying on facebook, noo, never... LOL] i realized that it will be a better, more polished story to give myself more time - release now set for October, the anniversary of Tessa's print release.

Angie Dicken said...

Yes, sometimes it feels like a fail to pass the deadline, but it can be a huge win in the long run. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Kathy, You are so right about getting in the deadline mode for when you actually have someone else imposing those deadlines on you. Good point!

Angie Dicken said...

I can imagine that self-imposed deadlines are very necessary but flexible as an indie author. And I so hear you on the Facebook delay!! HAHA~