Why You Should Have Deadlines
by J.K. Allen
It’s a cruel truth, but there are only 24 hours in a day. This can be especially hard for writers who have full time jobs or family obligations that cut into precious writing time. But if you want to write professionally, you have to carve out what time you can for writing and writing related projects. This means that instead of binge watching your favorite show on Netflix, you turn off the distractions and do some actual writing. We all feel like we don’t have enough time, but if you have some discipline, you’ll find time for writing.
For me it all comes down to deadlines. Even if they are self-imposed, they force you to sit and get your work done. I have several deadlines every week that I have to meet. This also guarantees that I am writing those days I have a deadline, even if it’s not on my WiP. This is good for developing your writing skills. I’ll break my week down for you now.
On Mondays, I post to my blog. This means that I start researching the topic I am going to write about on Saturday or Sunday at the latest. I figure out my topic, then compile articles and blog posts addressing that topic. Then on Monday I can sit down and crank out a blog post in about an hour. I’m not very strict about when on Monday I do this, which can be bad since sometimes I don’t post it until later in the day, so I’m contemplating stepping everything up by a day and writing the post on Sundays. It all depends on my motivation that particular week. But that is why we have deadlines. To motivate us to actually do the work.
Then I have this column which comes out on Tuesdays, but which I have to have posted and scheduled by Friday morning. I am not a morning person though, so I always do it some time on Thursday. Once again I start by picking a topic based on the month’s theme and then research for it. That way I can sit down and write it out in about an hour, much like my blog post.
I recently started a writing group online and we have two deadlines for that, one on Saturday where we post our weekly story and on Wednesday when our critiques on each other’s story must be done and we have a discussion. We pick the next week’s prompt on Wednesday after our discussion, so I keep that in the back of my mind to develop story ideas. Then on Thursday I begin to really shape my story and start writing it. That way I can finish on Friday or Saturday in time to post it. I don’t leave it till Saturday, because that’s when you’ll force yourself into writer’s block. But having that deadline means I am writing a short story every week, which is great for my writing process even though it’s not on my WiP. Every bit of writing makes us better.
The other days of the week I am working on perfecting my manuscript to send to agents. I’m also plotting for my next WiP, the sequel to my manuscript and will begin serious drafting for that project soon. This is my passion project, so I don’t need a deadline to motivate me to complete the project. However, I have given myself one in order to keep the editing from dragging on forever. And so I’ll be able to move onto the next project.
Having these deadlines keeps me writing all week. Even when I feel I have limited time, I push to complete each task in the blocks of time I do have. Breaking each task down into planning and research to do beforehand makes each task more manageable and lets me complete each part in a shorter period of time. How do you manage your time? Share below and happy writing.
Columnist/Illustrator at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
Originally published at ourwriteside.com on April 11, 2017.