Wednesday, 4 April 2012

D is for Deadline

I'm a deadline driven writer, in fact, I don't get my arse in gear for much unless I know I'm counting down the hours to a submission date. It's the same with life: if I need to decorate a bedroom, say, I order a new carpet and book the fitter. Now we have to get it done in the time frame. The sad thing is, with my crappy spine I'm reduced to painting the middle sections on the wall (at best), all the easy bits. Everyone else has to do all the prep work, heave out old carpets, move furniture. At least with writing the deadlines are just mine.

Writing a novel doesn't come with deadlines. You have an unspecified amount of time - say the rest of your life - to produce a draft that someone you don't even know might like. That's too wishy washy for me, and I just start lots of things and don't finish them. I couldn't find deadlines, so I started going in for competitions. That gave me a framework of deadlines to work towards (even if I didn't always enter).

So now I've learned to set deadlines for myself. Borrowed Time: first draft finished June 2011 (tick), second draft finished September (nearly) in case I was longlisted. Quick revisions for Mslexia because I was longlisted, 48 hours (tick). Now I've set myself the deadline of the London Book Fair (16th April) to finish my edits, send them as agreed to the lovely agent, then do the line edits etc. she proposes and hand it back ready for possible editors to view.


  1. I am deadline driven too, I know I work much better with one, I practically insist on one at work. It may sound naive but I had never really considered that the reason I start things and never finish is because they don't have deadlines. I just put it down to being so easily distracted. But it makes sense, because when I have started projects with deadlines, I just get on and do it. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I

  2. Thank you for commenting Kate. I wish I could set strict deadlines for myself, but I need an outside influence!

  3. Yep, I'm a bit of a deadline junkie too. I never met a deadline I didn't like, and only very rarely exceed them. I have had experiences with too-tight deadlines that I wouldn't deliberately repeat, but they certainly concentrate the mind on the task at hand.

    I wonder if (and I'm generalising, naturally), it's a woman thing. Haven't we always got something else to do for someone else? I know I'm guilty of editing for the husband or dressmaking for the daughter ahead of my own work.

    1. I think you may be right. Without a deadline, all the boring home stuff and husband's work stuff get priority, but when I have a deadline I wave it at the crowd, shut the door and get on with it!

  4. Sounds like a good plan. I make goals for myself, too. Most of the time, it works.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog!

  5. I am discovering the importance of deadlines as well. Not just setting a deadline, but then actually submitting my work afterwards. As you say, otherwise there's no reason to ever stop tinkering with the same piece. Stopping by from the A-Z challenge, and happy to follow you.

  6. Thank you, Cathy! I found doing courses set me deadlines, now I'm having to manufacture ones!

  7. Sometimes the only way I get anything done is if I might myself mini deadlines and mini goals toward a greater goal.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  8. My trouble is, I don't take self imposed deadlines seriously enough. Maybe I trule am king of the procrastinators...

  9. I did my post today on editing as well, one of those topics writers just can't get enough of! Your blog is charming.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge.

    A to Z Challenge Host