The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

6 Oct

Announcements: 

Today’s HUGE thank you goes out to DJ FRESH, one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry, for quoting Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy yesterday afternoon. Moments like these are unforgettable, especially since I have some wonderful music to follow!

fresh4

tmtinst

Rebekka.B’s Instagram photo

Also, I would like to thank Rebekka.B for reviewing Take Me Tomorrow on her Instagram. Not only is her picture beautiful, her review is wonderfully written, and she compared my latest novel to the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons. Here’s why: “The strength and power that the characters have are so on point and well written. I could relate to every one of them in a different way. At the end of the book you can only state that they are true warriors that fight for hope, justice and love…It’s a powerful book with powerful people who live in a powerful world.” Check out her full review by clicking here or read a preview of my book by clicking here. Either way, be sure to follow her book reviews!

In other news, I found out that two of my poems will be published in a literary journal at the end of November, but that is all I can say for now! Be on the look out for more news later this month.

The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines

Being an author is one-part writing, twenty-parts managing everything else. By “everything else”, I mean editing, social media, interviews, organizing covers, and so much more. Marketing is generally where most of my time goes, especially if you consider any type of social media marketing. That being said, a wise woman once told me that I have to remember that I am always an author first. This sounds much easier than it actually is. Getting caught up in marketing is a slippery slope I’m sure almost all authors have fallen on once or twice before. One way I avoid that (and remind myself that I NEED to make time for just my author life) is by setting deadlines for myself. Sure, my publisher suggests timeframes as well, but today, I’m focusing on personally setting deadlines for oneself and what kind of benefits and disadvantages it can have.

Pro: It keeps you motivated

Even though passion can be the basis of writing, there are still days where authors just don’t want to write. Maybe we’re tired from our day job. Maybe our favorite T.V. show has returned for another season. Maybe we just don’t want to. And maybe it is okay to take a break. Not writing for a day is perfectly fine, but not writing for day after day after day? You’ll find yourself in a writer’s slump faster than you realized. This can also turn into the horrors of writer’s block. Having a circled date that says, “Hit 20,000 words” can help motivate you to keep your off-days in check. You don’t even have to force yourself to write in something you don’t want to. But having a time set aside to write SOMETHING can help you get somewhere much faster than you realized.

Con: It can make that motivation feel more like pressure

To me, motivation should always be a positive thing. It shouldn’t stress someone out unless it’s “good” stress (which I am told is an actual thing). If this motivation starts pushing you down or making you write less or pressuring you to rush or causing you to fret about dates, word count, and publication dates, then, don’t do it. That being said, I’ve failed at meeting a goal, and it was perfectly okay. I simply understood my timing a little better, and I started pushing my goals back a few weeks. Understanding my writing time has actually helped me understand my calendar a lot. For instance, I can more accurately guess when I will finish content edits so I know when to start talking to my editors and cover artist. A perfect example of this hit me recently. Originally, Death Before Daylight was supposed to come out in late 2014, but it’s now reschedule for January of 2015. That being said, I estimated the novel would be 80,000 words after content edits, and I’ve already surpassed that, so it might be pushed back again. But I can’t dwell on it. I have to move forward and keep editing the content so I can get it in the hands of readers.

Pro: use kitty stickers on your calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: use kitty stickers on your kitty calendar to mark deadlines

Pro: Achieving small goals can give a burst in energy

For me, actually hitting the exact goal I planned (or hitting it beforehand) brings so much excitement to writing. Think of it like a video game or a puzzle. Moving onto the next level can be energizing, and that burst of energy can assist in trying to get to the next one and the next one after that. As many of you know, I keep progress bars on the right side of my website, but you don’t know that I keep all of my progress bars on my laptop. They are dated, and if I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, I like to scroll through them in order to see just how much I’ve gotten done in the past few months. I always feel much better after.

Con: Having unrealistic goals can be disheartening

Sometimes, I think writers can set unreasonable expectations for themselves, but that’s also because every writer is different. I’ve known an author who can write a book in one month – and a good one – but that doesn’t mean every author out there should try to accomplish that. Setting deadlines is not about finishing quickly. The goal relies in writing well rather than writing fast, and setting a deadline can be that reminder to give yourself the needed amount of time to write well. Don’t let it turn into a reminder that you’re not writing fast enough or that you’re not keeping up with everyone else. It’s not about them or their deadlines. It’s about you, and your passion, and your love for writing.

In Conclusion:

Deadlines are not for everyone. They work for me. They keep me organized and feeling accomplished in-between publications, but I have also been known to put too much pressure on myself, so I also need to know to be aware of when deadlines become deadly to my writing life. It doesn’t happen often, but I do keep checking in with myself, and if I need to take a break – by, God, I do. I step away, hit the road, and crank Elvis through my Mazda’s radio until the sun sets. At some point, I return, and at some point, I set another deadline, and at some point, I complete another deadline before I make another one. But the goal goes beyond deadlines. The goal disappears somewhere in those words strung together into sentences put together in paragraphs for pages upon pages.

The deadline, whether it is met or not, will still become a book, and in the end, that is what matters most.

What do you think? Do you set deadlines for yourself? What were the pros and cons for you? Comment, like, and share below!

~SAT

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10 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Setting Writing Deadlines”

  1. Dương Thị Sinh October 6, 2014 at 3:16 am #

    like this

  2. Mishka Jenkins October 6, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    Great post.

    There are definitely pros and cons to it. Personally, I couldn’t write without deadlines 😀 They keep me motivated and it gives me a goal to work towards. But then, I know a ton of authors who just can’t write well if they set any kind of date!

    • Shannon A Thompson October 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences with deadlines!
      ~SAT

  3. Charles Yallowitz October 6, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    Totally agree with this, especially the small goals. I set up daily targets like 2 chapter sections a day when writing or 2 full chapters when editing. I’ve found that one trick is to get used to having flexible deadlines since I can never tell when things will get derailed for a day. For example, I swore I’d finish editing one of my books early last week. Then the 5-year-old was home sick for a day and that pushed me back. Situations like that are understandable delays. Doesn’t make them less frustrating at times, but I really have to accept that it’ll happen.

    Being self-published, I really have nobody to answers to, so missing a ‘deadline’ is not as disastrous as many think. Not as long as I don’t make a big public promise and swear I’ll be ready by a specific date until the day before. Did that a few times and I ate repeatedly ate crow. So now I give a general month or time while I edit, my editor edits, and my cover artist does his thing. Honestly, even the big name authors get delayed from time to time by unforeseen events.

    • Shannon A Thompson October 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      I’m glad you shared your story about delays and life in general! I think many authors that try deadlines have a delay there first time (because everyone does – that’s life) and they get disheartened or cause writer’s block over it or get extremely stressed out or an array of emotions that don’t help them or their story. Letting them know that “falling behind” is basically expected (I think) helps other authors be easier on themselves, especially in terms of deadlines. Thanks for commenting!
      ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz October 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

        You’re welcome. It’s definitely part of the job. I think I’ve extended and missed more deadlines than I’ve made. Something else that helps is taking time to jot down notes as the day goes on. At least you can say you did something productive.

      • Shannon A Thompson October 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

        That is very true! I think those are my progress bars, for me. I update them every two weeks, but I keep my old ones so I can see how the time has passed productively. Of course, some change more than others because of productivity, but there is productivity!
        ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz October 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

        Funny. I never thought about writing progress notes, deadlines on calendars, or daily goals on scraps of paper. I just kind of wake up, think it, and go. Maybe I’d get further if I tried to organize them a bit more.

  4. Bethany Hatheway October 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    I love deadlines, I like to wave at them as they pass by 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. October Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - October 30, 2014

    […] from South Africa quoted Seconds Before Sunrise this month. The first thank you goes out to DJ Fresh – one of the most influential muso’s in the South African music industry – and the next […]

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