Thursday, January 23, 2014

ON DEADLINE: How to Make Your Writing Deadlines Work for YOU

with guest Sarah Ladd

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”  - Napoleon Hill

Deadlines. If you are a writer, you are no stranger to them! Contest entry deadlines. Blog post deadlines. Manuscript deadlines. Editing deadlines. Keeping track of all your deadlines and meeting them can be as difficult as actually writing your book! It’s easy to get nervous when a deadline is approaching, but with proper planning, you can survive you writing deadlines – and even thrive!  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you reach your next deadline.  

DEVELOP a plan. Some of you are full time writers. Some of you work outside the home. Some of you are caring for children or other family members. No matter how many hours a week you are able to dedicate to your writing, the important thing is use those hours wisely. Start with a blank calendar and circle your deadline date. Then, figure out how many days a week you are going to write and how many words a day you will need to write to meet your deadline. If you are working on multiple writing projects, create a different schedule for each project and layer them on top  of each other to make sure you plan is feasible. This will help you visually keep your projects on track. 

SHARE your plan with others.  Writing is rarely a solitary endeavor. Even though you are the one putting words on paper (or the screen), writers often need the help and support of others to make it happen. So make sure you communicate your goals to those important to you – your spouse. Your children. Your friends. Let them know when you will be working so they can support you and know what to expect.  

ASK for accountability. One of the great things about being a writer is that you probably have “writer” friends or you are a member of a writing community. Most of the people in these circles are likely facing deadlines of their own … Support each other! Share your goals with other writers. Ask for encouragement. Encourage others. You will find that communicating your success (and your concerns) with those who are on the same journey will inspire and motivate you.

BE diligent.  Some days, you will fly through your day’s word count goals. Other times, you will struggle to get even 100 words on the page. This is normal! The important thing is that you keep your goal in mind. Even if you don’t feel like it, WRITE. Even if the words aren’t coming, WRITE.  Writing is a discipline. The more you practice, and the more you exercise your ability to write even if the words aren’t coming, it will be easier to get through those harder days in the future. 

yourself some slack. While it is important to be diligent, if you get off track, don’t beat yourself up. In fact, it is a good idea to include some “make-up” days in your schedule. It happens to us all – we get sick, stuck in traffic, or the day’s schedule is just overwhelming.  So if this happens, start fresh the next day.

balanced.  While it is important to meet your deadline, remember your priorities. Every writer’s situation is different, but don’t sacrifice special moments. Enjoy your family. Hang out with friends. Spend time in the Word. Work out. You will find that if you balance your activities appropriately, you will be more creative with your writing.

REMEMBER to have fun! Don’t let deadline stress get you down. When a deadline gets tough, remember why you love writing. Take five minutes and read a page or two from your favorite book. Chat with an author friend.  Write a scene – just for fun. Writers write because it is their passion. Enjoy the journey, my friends.

Thanks so much for having me on Seekerville! I always love getting to visit. So now it’s your turn! I would love to hear your tips and tricks for meeting your deadlines! 

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Her debut novel, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance, and her second novel, The Headmistress of Rosemere, is now available.  Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever. Connect with her online:  Website  Facebook Twitter

Don't miss the contest going on right now on Sarah's Facebook page!

 The Headmistress of Rosemere is an RT Bookreviews 4 1/2 star TOP PICK!

"This book has it all: shining prose, heart-wrenching emotion, vivid and engaging characters, a well-paced plot and a sigh-worthy happy ending that might cause some readers to reach for the tissue box. In only her second novel, Ladd has established herself as Regency writing royalty."

Patience Creighton has devoted her life to running her father’s boarding school. But when the enigmatic master of the estate appears at her door, battered and unconscious, the young headmistress suddenly finds her livelihood—and her heart —in the hands of one dangerously handsome gentleman.

 Today Sarah is generously giving away one print copy of The Headmistress of Rosemere (Whisper on the Moors Book Two) to one lucky commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

We are including this additional picture of Sarah from an ACFW Conference, so you realize that she looks as lovely in real life as she does in her bio picture!


  1. You're right, Sarah. Some days are harder/easier than others to get those words down. Thanks for the tips.

    The coffee pot is ready.


  2. Sarah! An RT TOP PICK!!! Congratulations.

    I am so excited about this book. I love Regency romances! Absolutely my favorite historical time period.

    What might the ladies of the Regent serve on a social occasion such as this?

    Lemonade, trifle and pound cake perhaps??

  3. Hi Sarah.

    I don't really have any tips about meeting deadlines because I'm not published yet... Working on that though... Trying to figure out how to get my book published....

    Anyway, I can relate to some days being easier to write and some days being harder to write... I just finished a book that I have been working on for four years I do believe....

    Thanks for the advice....

  4. Thanks, Sarah...just posted my review for HEADMISTRESS OF ROSEMERE. I actually found I got more done in my day when I was working a 9 - 5 job, because I knew I only had my evening hours and weekends to get my things done. Now it's too easy to leave for tomorrow. Tina, don't have that book yet?

  5. Wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing this great article! I loved your first book in the series and can't wait to read this one!

  6. Wow, what a write up. Regency writing royalty! Kudos on that blurb!

    And I just have to say, Sarah is prettier in person than in photos. No lie.

    As to deadline making, what helps me? Fear.

  7. Hi Seekerville,

    My deadlines are mostly self imposed, but I can be hard on myself. I think I like your guideline of cutting yourself some slack the most, Sarah! What a lovely photo of you and Mary! So good to see you here!


  8. GOOOOOD MORNING SEEKERVILLE! Thank you so much for having me!

    Helen - thanks for the warm welcome and having the coffee pot ready -- it is a very cold morning -- a hot cup of coffee sounds great!

    Tina - thanks for the congrats! As far as refreshments -- TEA! Don't forget the tea! :)

    Courtney - A HUGE congrats on finishing your book! That is great! You are absolutely right -- some days are harder to write than others. The great thing about setting deadlines before you are published is that they are great practice. Even if they are small goals, like striving to finish a chapter by the end of the month, they are helpful and help move you towards your goal. Best of luck! Do you have plans to start a new writing project soon?

  9. And oh yes, Mary C is as lovely too!
    Cab't miss that smile even in a crowded room!

    Now I'm off to work and trying not to be depressed over the breakup of the Captain and Tennille.
    "love will keep us together"
    well it did for 39 years...

    Thanks for sharing a great plan, Sarah. It was nice to meet you in Indy!

  10. MARIANNE: Thanks for posting a review! And I know what you mean -- I am like you -- I am actually more productive when the deadline is tight and my schedule is strict!

    HEIDI: Thanks for stopping by! Thanks for reading The Heiress of Winterwood! :)

    MELISSA: Thanks for the kind words! And I had to giggle a bit when I saw that fear motivates you to get to your deadline -- I agree! That little (okay, huge) rush of adrenaline as a deadline approaches definitely keeps me at the keyboard too! :)

  11. HI PIPER! Great to see you here! Self-imposed deadlines are actually very important -- they are great practice! But you are right -- it is important to not beat yourself up too much if you get off track -- just start fresh the next day!

    DEBRA - It was nice to meet you in Indy too! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Good morning, Sarah! Once I sign on the dotted line, making time for deadlines is a given! But when I was unpublished, it was way too easy to have a shadowy "goal" -- to tell myself "I'll finish the book this year" and then for 10,001 reasons that wouldn't happen. Some were unavoidable reasons (like 55-60+ hour day job work weeks) and other non-negotiable commitments--but other times time just got away from me. Your tips for staying the course are ones I definitely found to be helpful. I found I most often didn't make progress when there was something in my story that I was getting snagged up on or that I didn't know enough about craft-wise to handle or I was just tiring of the story because it was taking so long or I didn't have a concrete goal (for example, "complete book to enter in Golden Heart"). And then there were no 'consequences' when I didn't meet a goal--which makes having someone to be accountable to so critical. Being a part of the Seekers was daily motivation to keep at my self-imposed, deadlines as an unpublished writer.

  13. I've learned deadlines are the way I need to go. Thanks so much.

    And the cover fairy has been so good to you! What great stories you write. Put me in for the drawing.

    Peace, Julie

  14. GLYNNA - Thank you for sharing your experience! I agree with you -- accountability is such a key component for meeting deadlines -- at least for me! I have a few trusted friends I share my goals with, and they help encourage me to get there!

    ROSE - Thanks so much for stopping by!

    JULIE - Thanks for the kind words about the covers -- I love them! :)

  15. Welcome, Sarah! Would love to be in the giveaway for your book...I have been so anxious to read it.
    Love the cover!

  16. Sarah,

    Deadlines. I'm unpublished, but have had requests for my ms. The problem is, the deadline is not in concrete. Last summer I received a request and continued to work on ms, after all, most of it was already on paper. But it wasn't right. Scenes needed to be deleted and rewritten, some added. Point is, I'd give myself a deadline, work toward it, but not meet it.

    Someone advised that is you've had a request, but haven't submitted it, to write the editor telling them you're working on it and give them a deadline when they can expect it.

    On Jan. 8 I sent one of those emails to my editor to let her know I'd have my ms into her no later than Feb. 1. Guess what? Tues. night I wrote The End and still have 10 days to make it shine.

    I don't think I would've forced myself through the hard parts if I wouldn't have emailed her my due date.

  17. And Sarah,

    Please throw my name in the hat. You're book sounds delightful.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. I'm not a writer but when I do have a deadline of some sort, I just plan ahead to make sure I make it.

  20. I appreciated Sarah's post because I am so terrible at deadlines until my back is against the wall, the rifles are all pointed at my chest and the Captain says, "Fire". Then, oh man, I get it all done. Sadly, writing is too often at the bottom of the 'deadline' pile. I will try harder to prioritize it up for it is my 'life goal'. Would like to be in for a book.

  21. I have two 18-month-olds, one my own and one I keep for a friend, and it's really hard to make good time on writing projects. However, just having a deadline helps a lot. I've noticed a huge difference in how well I use my time when I have a deadline versus when I don't. :) The other day my mother-in-law volunteered to babysit for a few hours, and I got more done in those few hours than I'd gotten done in the past two days!

    I don't need to be entered in the drawing for your book. I already have a copy, and I loved it. :)

  22. Sarah, you cutie, so nice to see you!!!!

    Hey, I love this layout of goal-setting and planning. I am a huge planner.

    Not about the books I write, but about securing my life to be able to pantser my way through my books.

    And then I guard that time like a junk-yard dog, but I smile as I do it, so folks think I'm nice.

    Pshaw!!!! :)

    This is a nice overview of plan your work and working your plan. To me those simple adages (and I learned mine as a Tupperware Lady a few decades ago!)

    And before you start doin' the math, I was the YOUNGEST TUPPERWARE LADY, EVER.

    That may or may not be true. :)

    I always have self-imposed deadlines. Mary Virginia does that too, so do a lot of my writer buds.

    The writers that I tend to see getting into time-trouble?

    The ones who don't work ahead of the game, who let the work pile up and then rush to the finish. A rabbit-like finish might work... but I bet it doesn't always work.

    But then, maybe that's a personality or "control" quirk???

    I just know that if I'm ahead of time, I don't fret if an unexpected sickness or funeral or wedding or quick vacation crops up. And I don't fret about it because I'm already "ahead".

    That's huge to me.

  23. Welcome to Seekerville SARAH. Thank you so much for the wonderful tips on making those deadlines. This is really important, esp when others are basing their schedules on your deadlines.

  24. RUTHY "youngest Tupperware lady ever"? I am biting my tongue . lol

  25. Hey, Sarah!!! You always amaze me that you can meet your deadlines even though you work full time! You are a hard worker.
    And CONGRATS on the 4 1/2 star Top Pick from RT!!! That is HUGE!!! So exciting!

    This is a good reminder for me. I just met a tough deadline but am now having trouble getting back to writing the book I had to put aside to finish up the other one. So ... I realize I need to set myself a deadline and a schedule, since I want to write three books this year! I'll never make it if I don't set some goals and a deadline! Hugs, Sarah!!!

  26. Oh, I'm in on the lemonade, trifle and pound cake!!!!

    There is, I'm assuming, lemon curd?

    And fresh cream!!!!

  27. Tea! I actually did some research on this last night. Elderberry wine was a favorite for soirees as well.

    Who knew??

  28. Sarah, you still work full time? Seriously?

  29. LOVE your book cover, Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing your advice and tips with Seekerville today!

    "BE diligent" caught my eye. It's so true--some days the words flow like water, and before I know it, I've doubled my word count goal for the day.

    Then I hit a wall, as I have this week. I'm WAY behind on my personal deadline to finish this wip, and it is SO frustrating!

    So, obviously, I need to cut myself some slack, right?

    Maybe some chocolate would help . . .

  30. DEBRA, I saw on GMA this morning about Captain and Tennille splitting. Oh, my, if the "Muskrat Lovers" can't stick it out, what is this world coming to???

  31. Lovely post, Sarah!

    And LOVE your first novel. One of the best books I read in 2013!


  32. SARAH, what a great post! I find when I give myself deadlines I work to them. In the writing process. I haven't figured out how to make that work in the revising end of things.

    I, too, loved your tip of adding in some slack days for just in case.

    Please put me in the drawing.

    This post tickled my organizer's heart. :)

  33. Sarah

    Let me just say The Heiress of Winterwood is one of the best Regencies out there. It inspired me to write my own. Headmistress of Rosemere is on my TBR list.

    I retired early so I could get away from deadlines. Now here I am back in the fray.

  34. JACKIE - thanks so much for stopping by!

    CONNIE - congrats on having the edits done and having a more days to work on the details! Self-imposed deadlines can be hard, but I love hearing how you were able to make yours work for you! Congrats -- and best of luck!

  35. AMY - Thanks for stopping by!

    EILEEN - So you work best last minute? I definitely work best last minute!!

    JENNIFER - WOW you have a lot on your plate! There is something psychological about a deadline, isn't there? You are right - at least for me, just knowing there is a date that it needs to be done my spurs me into action. :)

  36. RUTH - Thanks for stopping by! I am a planner, too. :) I love to work out as far ahead as possible. I am not sure I am always successful at it, but I try! Best of luck with your deadlines!

  37. HI MELANIE! Hugs! You bring up a good point -- sometimes, after you meet a big deadline, it is hard to get in the swing of things to meet a different deadline. Anyone else have a problem with that? How do you combat it?

    TINA -- Actually, I am not working full time in marketing at the moment -- I have shortened my marketing hours to free up more hours for my writing. :)

  38. HI SANDRA! Good to see you here!

    MYRA: Chocolate always helps. Always! :)

    AMANDA: Thanks for the kind words!

  39. I like writing deadlines. Is that weird? I like the pressure of knowing I have to get something done. Of course, I'm not yet published, so that's easy for me to say. :)

  40. Good advice. It sounds exactly like what I would recommend!

  41. Sarah - congrats on the RT Review! That is awesome. Your cover is amazing and I'd love a chance to win the book.

    Your advice is great. I'm a procrastinator by nature so I really have to FOCUS (my word for the year) to get things done. Do you still work fulltime? I'd love to take an early retirement and write fulltime but it is a scary prospect. And BTW just like Ruthy was the youngest Tupperware lady ever, I'd be the youngest retiree!

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

  42. Welcome back to Seekerville, Sarah! Your tips for meeting book deadlines are terrific, a wonderful balance for handling deadlines and living life. Thank you!

    Just as you do, I divide the word count by the days I have to see how many words I needed to write each day. I give myself weekends off and a month to revise. Then I have weekends to play catch up if I missed my daily goal. Of late, looming deadlines were raising my blood pressure so now I'm writing the complete. But I'm finding no deadline can be too freeing. Again balance is key.

    I must read The Headmistress of Rosemere! The title and cover hooked me. And the RT Top Pick and quote cemented it!

    Hope you're staying warm in the Midwest's frigid temps. I'm loving today's sunshine!


  43. Debra, I can't believe Captain and Tennile split! Especially after 39 years of marriage. Thanks for letting us know. I can hear that song in my head.


  44. Melissa, laughing at the fear. Felt the same. Fear is a great motivator. But fear can harm us overtime.


  45. Ruthy, didn't know you were a tupperware lady. I'm guessing you were a huge success at it. When I was young we had lots of parties. Needed stuff then, but now...

    Call me tuppered out.


  46. Sarah, God bless you for your statement, "This is normal!" I'm pre-published, so my deadlines are self-imposed, except for contests. But so far, so good. I consider myself to be in training, hopefully to make it to the Olympics someday, where all y'all are. :-)

    You're in Indiana? Me, too! Going to find you on Facebook right now. :-) Would love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks!

  47. Elderberry wine??? How very Anne of Green Gables!!!!!


  48. Janet....

    I'm tuppered out, too! So funny, I can't handle having plastic storage in the house.

    Except for Gladware to send cookies to my away-from-home kids. Gladware rocks.

    I'm so glad writing books has kicked my plastic-selling career to the curb!!!!

  49. I love that quote
    A goal is a dream with a deadline.

    The book looks terrific, Sarah.

  50. I got my first adult job at a newspaper, there the deadlines are WRITTEN IN STONE. You're done of the paper goes without you.

    And when you miss your deadline ...then you're in trouble....Emphasis on DEAD.

    So I think Deadlines have always been a real absolute to me and I think it's because of that newspaper training.

  51. Hi Sarah,

    Great advice! Love the covers of your books! So beautiful.

    Trying to stay warm here in frigid temps! Brrr... Drinking hot tea now! Have to go back out again soon.

    Love to be in the draw!


  52. HI Sarah! Some great tips and advice, thanks for sharing. I haven't read either of your books, but the first one was on my Christmas list this year, and I've still got some gift cards tucked away...

    I used to have certain evenings established as writing nights for me, so my husband, family, and friends all knew that I was unavailable those nights. Alas, I have a new schedule and I'm trying to work those nights back in! However, I took a week and a half off during the Christmas holidays, and made myself write an hour each day (and spend a second horu editing another project). It erminded me of how much I love writing and made me WANT to establish those routines and deadlines again!

    Please include me the drawing!

  53. Sarah, love that you included "Balance" in your post today. So important. All work and no play, right?

    Your new story sounds wonderful! Love that cover.

    I brought oatmeal raisin cookies from Sams. No time to bake. I'm under deadline. :)

    Heading back to my WIP!

    Stay warm, everyone! It's cold in Georgia.

  54. Bringing in more repast for the afternoon crowd.

    Something a headmistress would approve of.

    Tea and cookies.

  55. Congrats on the new release, Sarah. I enjoyed reading it. :-)

    I think some people need more accountability and more scheduling than others. I'm very task oriented and never have trouble with the deadlines or need to find an accountability partner, but I know other writers a little less driven, so I think it depends.

  56. COURTNEY -- I don't think it is weird at all to like deadlines! At least for me, knowing I have a plan how (and when) I am going to get things done helps keep anxiety away. :)

    CARRIE!! Hi Carrie!!

  57. HI TERRI - Thanks for the congrats! And no, I do not still work full time. I still work part time in marketing, but I decreased the number of hours I work so I could focus more on writing. :) BTW - FOCUS is a great word for the year!

  58. HI JANET! I agree with you -- balance is key! It sounds like we approach deadlines in a similar manner! And yes, I am surviving the frigid temps -- are you? I hear more is on the way!

  59. Late getting over here but I wanted to say I loved your books!

    (Carry on...)

  60. HELLO to Meghan, a fellow Hoosier! I hope you do find me on Facebook - I would love to connect with you there! It sounds like you are getting great deadline "training" ... keep up the good work! :)

  61. Hi SUE! Enjoy that hot tea and stay warm! Thanks for stopping by!

  62. STEPHANIE - Thanks for including The Heiress of Winterwood on your Christmas list! :) It sounds like you have a really solid plan in place, which is great!

  63. I would feel a lot worse about how cold it is in the Carolinas if I didn't know it was cold EVERYWHERE this winter.

    Except I guess y'all in the Southwest aren't suffering too much. Wanna send some of those mild temps out east???


  64. Hi MARY! Yes, I would imagine writing for a newspaper would be excellent practice for getting used to meeting deadlines! Good to chat with you here! :O)

  65. HI NAOMI! I think you are right -- sometimes a person's personality is a big factor in how they approach deadlines! Thanks for stopping by!

  66. Hi VIRGINIA!!! Thanks for the kind words about the books! Thanks for stopping by!! :)

  67. btw standing next to young, skinny pretty curly haired Sarah for a picture is a lesson in humility. :)

    But I get plenty of those lessons so why not one more?

  68. I get more work done when I'm under deadlines are good for my productivity.

    Although sometimes I cut myself a bit too short of time and then life gets hectic. That's when I don't like deadlines. :)

    May I have a cup of tea, please?

  69. Hi Sarah.

    Sorry I'm so late to answering your question... I've been busy today...

    We've been cleaning and had to go to town...

    We are having a Fellowship meeting at our church tomorrow night... So I will be baking about 24 mini cupcakes and 24 regular cupcakes, brownies and possibly a cake.....

    Busy, busy, busy...

    Anyway, I am thinking about writing a second book to the one I just finished... I haven't came up with a name for it yet but its still a working progress.....

  70. Cortney K! Next step is to find a critique partner, enter a few contests, check out some small conferences to start networking.

  71. Hi Sarah,

    Congratulations on having a RT top pick! What a beautiful cover too.

    So glad you stopped by today.

  72. Tina,

    How would I find a critique partner?

    Lol that's probably a crazy question but I am so new to this.....

  73. BTW, some of the Seekers were lucky enough to read Sarah's first sale book when she entered in one of our critiquing opportunities.

  74. What a great post, Sarah. And so exciting to read that fantastic review from RT!! Congrats!

    You gave such good, encouraging advice. Thanks for sharing!

  75. Sorry to have been AWOL lately. I've been out of town all week for a funeral in Kentucky.

    I'm home now though and glad to see everyone.

  76. Great post, Sarah! I'm adding this to my Keeper Files.
    Congratulations on your awesome success---WOW!
    Sorry to be so late joining in today---attended an out-of-state wedding a few days ago and am still playing catch-up, LOL.
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  77. Hi Sarah, I'm on a self-imposed deadline right now, but I wanted to stop by and thank you for such a thoughtful and helpful post.
    And CONGRATS on the great review!

    I haven't read Headmistress yet, because I know what will happen. I'll get so enthralled by it that I'll immediately want to go back to the Regency I started rather than finish the book I'm supposed to be writing.
    I guess you can be my reward for meeting my deadline. ;)

  78. HI DEBBIE! I always seem to be more productive when I have a deadline too!

  79. Hi Mary! You mentioned rewarding yourself for meeting a deadline -- I think that is a great idea!

  80. PATTI JO - Thanks for stopping by!

  81. TINA - you are right! One of the very first people to ever read the first passages of The Heiress of Winterwood was Mary Connealy! I was so nervous to let anyone read it! She was so encouraging and inspired me to keep writing! I will always be grateful to Seekerville for that! :)

  82. Well, I peeked at your msc before I passed it to Mary, and we both knew it was a winner!!!!!

  83. A very interesting post thank you.

    "The Headmistress of Rosemere" looks fantastic.

  84. Great post! I thrive on deadlines. I've found having a deadline (even a self-imposed one) motivates me to write even on those days when I don't feel like it, as you said.

    Congratulations on the award! I'm looking forward to reading your books!

  85. Sarah, Great post. Congrats on your new release - I love Regency romances.

  86. I missed this post yesterday (I'm on deadline...) Wonderful advice and congratulations on the RT top pick!!

  87. SARAH!!!! I am SO sorry I'm late, my friend, PLEASE forgive me!!

    And HOLY COW ... an RT TOP PICK!!! You rock, girlfriend, and I cannot WAIT to read it! It's sitting on my desk right now, and it's killing me because I have EIGHT Rita books to judge and four endorsements to read/write, so I'm bumming. BUT ... I know I will love it when I do get to it because your 1st one was FABULOUS!!

    Great post, by the way, but then you are a master at step-by-step, girlfriend!!


  88. Any advice on meeting deadlines is good - thanks for the post. Accountability is a good point, I never thought of that for deadlines.

  89. Great advice, Sarah! Writing is a job, even if it is one people love. The discipline goes a long way.