Of Self-Imposed Deadlines and Poor Success Rates

Currently listening to: Empire by Shakira

One complete first draft.

That’s the goal I’ve been aiming toward since…oh, I don’t know. Something like August 2014. In fairness, I was neck-deep in work on Songstruck for a while, but I’ve been more or less free of editing and publishing concerns for that novel since the beginning of January. So I have no excuse for my lack of productivity since then.

But I’ve been working on the sequel to Songstruck, and now I’m hitting a point on that manuscript that I once hit while writing Songstruck. I just don’t feel like writing it. I know what I want to write. I know what scenes need to be trimmed that are already written. I know all of it, but I can’t get myself to do it. I am on a deadline, though, and I’ve given myself plenty of time to reach it. My goal is to have the first draft of the sequel (which I suppose I can mention is to be called Stagestruck) finished by New Year’s Eve of this year.

Why so far away? Well, first because in all fairness, I am busy. Graduate school is fairly demanding. Also, since I participate in NaNoWriMo, I manage to write a lot in the month of November. Around 90% of Songstruck was written in November of 2013. November is the part of the year where I am most motivated to write, no matter what other obligations I have at the time, because there is such a huge community of other people doing exactly the same thing.

I’ve also put the deadline there because I’ve found over the years that when I put myself on a deadline for a big project (like writing an entire manuscript), I don’t meet it. And then I get frustrated and discouraged. Smaller goals, like getting Songstruck published on Christmas Eve (the goal was technically before the new year in general, not just before Christmas), are much easier to manage, because in cases like that, the bulk of the work was already finished. But if I tell myself that I need to finish the first draft of Stagestruck by, say, June 1? Life will inevitably get in the way, and I won’t get around to finishing it for whatever reason. I don’t like missing deadlines, but I also don’t like giving myself goals like “type 30 pages by X date”. And so I put the deadline somewhere I can certainly reach, for the whole completed project.

I’m sure others are just the opposite of me, and set smaller deadlines. Or perhaps you work better by setting a bigger deadline sooner, to push you to work on the project more? Or something else? Maybe some of you shun deadlines of any sort? Let me know!



2 thoughts on “Of Self-Imposed Deadlines and Poor Success Rates

  1. I enjoy deadlines. I like waving at them as they pass me by.

    Haha but really, I do enjoy having a date to get things done by. I don’t stress out if I don’t manage to meet the deadline, so there’s really no harm in missing it. I just enjoy thinking on more long-term scales, such as “If I finish draft 3 of novel A by June, I can publish by August and start novel B during the marketing lull” and so on.


  2. Deadlines are good for me, I’ve found. They need to be reasonable, though, otherwise I start getting panicked and end up having nightmares 😀 I found my most useful deadlines were the publishing date ones: yanno, ‘Get your last version of the MS in by THIS date to make sure the preorder goes through’ etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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