Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Important Are Deadlines?

with guest blogger, Leslie Ann Sartor

Many years ago, I wrote a newsletter article for the Colorado Romance Writers on Just How Important Is It To Meet Your Deadlines? It won the outstanding newsletter article of the year. I still believe in every word and I’ve posted the article below so you can see it and then the caveat I’m adding.

You may think this is a no-brainer question, and I can hear you right now saying, “Silly woman, of course it’s important.” Well, read on and see why I even bother to bring up the  question.

Recently, during a BIAY (Book In A  Year) progress report, a pre-published writer made the comment, “When I’m on the  clock, I wouldn’t dream of missing a deadline, but I get sloppy when I’m off the clock.”

Her comment instantly reminded me of countless other times I’ve heard or seen variations of deadline sloppiness. So I started questioning why a writing deadline is less important than any other deadline. Isn’t this a career? Aren’t you on the clock?

Again, I’m hearing you say, “But I’m not making any money at this…yet, so it’s really not a career.” Let’s see if the definition of career changes your mind. From the Oxford Dictionary: Career> noun 1. An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life, usually with opportunities for progress.

Now are you convinced you’re endeavoring in a writing career? I hope the answer is a resounding yes.

It is my strong belief that if you have a page count deadline, a contest to enter or a proposal to send off, your deadline is no less important to meet than a NY Times best-selling author’s deadline.

But it isn’t only the pre-published writers who can be sloppy with a deadline. You’d imagine a published writer would be crazy to miss any deadline, be it a personal deadline to finish a book  so it can boost a career, or a publisher’s contractual deadline. Yet it happens. Careers have stalled or ended because of missed deadlines.

I know life intrudes and even with the best intentions, a deadline can slip away. But you must not allow slippage to become sloppiness. WHY am I so emphatic about this? Because if you can’t keep   to your deadlines now, you’ll have a much harder time meeting your contractual, career-boosting deadlines. By putting word after word on the page so your  deadline is met is what gets a book, a proposal, a magazine article DONE. Then you have your next deadline to set, getting your work to a publisher, an agent or critique group. You make progress.

And that’s what it’s all about.

So if you have trouble meeting the deadlines you’ve set or have been set for you, honestly reassess why, sometimes your answers will astound you. Set deadlines that make you stretch, but can still be met. It’s good practice for the rest of your career.

Now off my soap box and on to my next deadline.

So there you have it. However, after having met six self-imposed deadlines, I have to add a strong caveat to this. But first I have to tell you a bit more about my writing life. I’m a self-published author. Fairly successful and as of this post I’ll have published six books since 2012. Two are bestsellers reaching #1 on Amazon and one has won the International Digital Award.  While I know six books may not seem like a lot to your more prolific authors, to me it’s a significant achievement. And now I’m exhausted. Not so much mentally, as I’m ready to tackle the next book. But physically and emotionally.

I started writing Indie so I could tell my story, my way. I started a blog with that in mind, and I’m still writing using that standard. 

But I also have “retired” (I’ve got to find a new word for leaving one’s day job and never going back to that lifestyle again) and instead of finding balance, I found a Christmas Romance series, an Action Adventure Romance series and a few other books I had to write.  Christmas books HAVE to be out a specific time, at least in my mind. Wow, that was 3 deadlines that had to be met, or why bother writing them?  The second book of the Carswell Adventure series needed to be finished for my own peace of mind, and then immediately I had to start my latest Christmas book.  And in midst of writing that, a couple of nationally published magazine articles needed writing.

To accomplish each of these deadlines, I pushed myself, my editor, and my beta readers hard. Add in my final go-to person for the last read through, my 92-year-old mom who was happy to do it, but still, it was a push for her. Everyone, including my husband Gary, worked around me. I even edited this last book on my vacation.

I vowed in October of this year that my seventh book, Prince of Granola would take as long as it takes. And I realized that yes (and here is the caveat) I have a deadline, to get it done and done well. But not at the expense of my team, myself and my family.  I think it’ll take a year to write the story, the edits and final read-through. It’s a new genre for me, a Rom-Com and I’m anxious to get it right. It’s a great story.  But I have to remind myself that I have time to make it wonderful without pushing myself and everyone around me.

I specifically chose the Indie route to have the freedom to learn to play the piano again. To travel, to hike in the mountains. To enjoy the holiday season. To write my story my way. I’ve had amazing people surround me that have put aside their own pursuits to help me and I can’t, won’t, continue to ask that of them or me.

Yes, I’m making the progress I mention in the article. Huge steps forward, leaps even. And now the leap is to continue this progress, but in a fashion that is sustainable, enjoyable and that’s the main reason I write. Because I love it. I want to continue to love it. I want my editor to stay with me, and my beta readers to love reading for me.

So, what do you all do about meeting deadlines, either self-imposed or by your publisher? How do you find the balance? What do you do when you don’t and can’t get an extension? How do you handle the exhaustion of non-stop deadlines?

I’m offering a Kindle e-copy of Believe In Me This Christmas Morn to two people who leave a comment.

Merry Christmas. I hope your holidays are joyous.

L.A. Sartor's website (Join my mailing list via the Contact Me tab)
Facebook Profile   (Let’s be friends on Facebook)


Marianne Barkman said...

WOW, Leslie Ann what a post! And I'm sure that any person (author or not) with that kind of response to deadlines will have integrity in all aspects of there life. I'm off to Facebook to friend you, as a reader, not a writer, the deadlines I have are not as dramatic, but I do have reviews that need to be done by certain times. Thanks.

Terri said...

Leslie Ann, I think it's all about finding the balance that works in your life. I'm still at my day job and its demanding. I know that limits my writing time. Valid point. I've watched way too many Hallnark Christmas movies this year and have written less. Bad call on my part.

Your article is much more serious, but I think and hope I get what you're saying. Please include me in the drawing. Congrats to you for following your dream and making such a success of your writing.

Vince said...

Hi LA:

I think the word 'deadline' is impersonal and cold and once-removed from the real issue. I find it best to treat deadlines as what they really are: promises.

There is a big difference between referring to the promises you've made that you have to keep because your word means something and because you are an honorable person than it is to refer to these promises as just a series of publisher deadlines.

I believe that if you think of deadlines as promises you've made that you must keep then all the mystery of meeting deadlines is gone. It's simple: do you keep your word or not?


P.S. Please enter me in the drawing for your Christmas book.

Mary Preston said...

I'm actually the kind of person who gets stuck into things early so that deadlines are not too much of a problem.

Count me in thank you.

Cindy W. said...

Deadlines are extremely important and I do understand the 'sloppiness' that can happen with self imposed deadlines. I am good at meeting deadlines at my day job. I always have been. It also seems I do my best work while under a deadline. So how come when I give myself my own deadline I allow myself to start moving the 'deadline' back a little here and there. It gets sloppy.

Thank you for your post today. It gives me a lot of food for thought. I would love to win an ecopy of your book. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I have done this from the beginning, Leslie, so your post resonated with me!

I've always set personal deadlines and goals, and I'm strict about them. I figured practice as a non-published author would help me transition when that call came, and it did. I've never minded working under pressure, but when the pressure includes re-writing stories and then marketing and maintaining a presence and working the day job, that's crazy, right?

CRAZY FUN!!!! I find the more I expect of myself, the more productive I am, but it's because I set those guidelines/deadlines. That's huge to me!!!

Congratulations on your success! I'm so proud of you and happy for you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cindy and Mary, I think that's the best way to look at writing, too. As if you're punching a clock, every day. And after having so many nametag and hairnet jobs, punching the writing clock just seemed downright like a reward to me!!!! YES! I'M A WRITER!


You guys have great insight on this.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Terri Weldon, LOL!

Did you know that some of the Lifetime movies have a stronger inspirational, meaningful premise than the Hallmark ones?

Am I the only person (off topic a little, sorry Leslie) who thinks they overdo the love triangle by a lot? It's like 90% of the stories are now a love triangle, instead of straight conflicted romance.


Jessica Nelson said...

Oh yes, I take deadlines seriously! However...I am a procrastinator. I try so hard not to be but then I fall off the wagon...lol
Congrats on all your success in the indie world!

Jackie said...

Hi Leslie Ann,

Welcome to Seekerville. I work with little deadlines every day. I'm a pharmacist, and I want to fill a prescription and get a customer on their way as quick as possible, especially if they have a sick child. If a customer calls, I give them a time I'll have their medicine ready, and I write it down to stay on task.

After reading your post today, it occurs to me I need to make more concrete deadlines with my writing. I just finished NaNO which is good practice for concrete deadlines. Maybe this will be a 2016 goal.

Congrats on your success in Indie publishing.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome, Leslie Ann. I've always had to meet deadlines in my day job, so meeting them when I'm writing, isn't much of a problem. I work best when I have a deadline. It's a motivating factor I need.
Continued success on your Indie journey!

Vince said...

Hi LA:

It's so nice to see you back on Seekerville again. With your sweet smile, blond hair, and happy expression, you're like a ray of sunshine come to Seekerville before the sun comes up.

I must say that your idea to write slower and live life more fully in other areas of your life sound just like what Audra was saying last week. Are you two in cahoots? :)

For some reason, maybe it's the LA, I always think of you as a screenwriter. Is there anything going on in that direction?


Debby Giusti said...

Congrats on your success! The challenge for me is deciding what my deadlines will be...because my editor lets me choose when the book needs to be submitted. Making that decision almost a year in advance, if it's a multi-book contract, is difficult. But a good difficult, if you know what I mean.

Deadlines are tricky. Life happens, but the books still need to be written. :)

Glad you're taking some time on this next book. Our bodies don't like constant stress. We need to be kind to ourselves. As you mentioned, balance is important.

Happy Advent!

Wilani Wahl said...

I am working at setting goals for my writing. This month knowing all the extra demands of the season, I have lighter goals then other months, but since I exceeded my goals in November, I can do this. I am still writing every day just not as many words, but then I am also editing which also takes time.

Please enter me in the drawing.

I need to go make a grape salad for a Christmas party tonight.

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Leslie Ann, Thank for this post. Deadlines do have a way of sneaking up on a person don't they? CHRISTMAS IS NEXT FRIDAY.... Are you ready?!

Please enter me into the drawing. Have a wonderful day!

Marianne Barkman said...

Leslie Ann, I forgot to say I'd love a copy of your book. And I notice I made the dreadful mistake of writing there when I meant their. Guess I need coffee more than I thought!

Missy Tippens said...

Leslie Ann, it sounds as if you've figured out a writing pace that will work better for you. I think you're wise not to push so hard you exhaust everyone you work with (especially your mom!). :) I hope you enjoy writing this next book!

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I agree that it can be tough to decide on those deadlines! Especially when you're signing your name on the dotted line.

I've said before that dividing up the work into a daily word count goal can really help. At least for me. :)

DebH said...

I'm good at employment deadlines, not so good with the personal ones. I believe my problem is I have not been able to give myself permission to view my "hobbies" as serious work type things. Until I do that, I know I will constantly fight that sloppy deadline syndrome. My life schedule has been a bit wonky ever since my little boy was born six years ago. I think I'm still adjusting the personal schedule that got entrenched during my first forty years to the one that includes a lively gift of a curious child and the time it takes to nurture him.

Excellent post, and one I need so I can look at my priorities from a different perspective. Name in draw please. THANKS!!!

Myra Johnson said...

Such good advice here, Leslie Ann--thank you! I'm a stickler for deadlines and try my best to turn work in early. I always set a personal deadline well ahead of an editorial deadline so I have plenty of time for revisions and any other last-minute issues that arise.

Audra Harders said...

Leslie, so glad you joined us in Seekerville today. Brrrr, it's a blizzard here in Boulder County, CO!!! I have tons of snow here in the east end of the county, but Leslie lives in the west end up against the foothills. Mega-tons falling up there!

Deadlines send shivers down my spine right now, but they are an absolute necessity. My goals and deadlines are very bite size. I achieve one; move on to another. Very building-block like.

I look forward to seeing how everyone deals with their priorities!!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Wow, I'm always so surprised to wake up and find comments already. Even before I my first cup of coffee, I check.

You guys are so fabulous. I'm off to get coffee and then start replying which I love doing.

BTW, it's snowing here to beat the band...just like in my Christmas books. I love it.

Hugs and Merry Christmas,

Audra Harders said...

Speaking of priorities, I hate being so MIA in Seekerville, but day job has managed to suck up too much time and energy lately. I'm praying the Seekerville party on New Year's Eve will be a great turning point for my own priorities.

I love you and miss you, Seekerville!!!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi, Marianne,
Thanks for friending me on FB. It's interesting that the post came across as serious, but then I've always taken the "deadline" part of my life pretty seriously.

My mom and I used to own a jewelry supply/ custom jewelry store, and that also was filled with deadlines. So I guess that contributes to my thoughts on the subject☺️


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi, Terri
Yes balance is vital...a few years ago here we posted our one word and mine was something along those lines. But that didn't work 🙂
Now I literally have to or the body won't be happy with me.


Chill N said...

Hi Leslie! Terrific post!

I know I can meet (actually meet earlier than required) deadlines because I did it and continue to do it. For now, though,I am here when it comes to all my writing: "I can’t, won’t, continue to ask that of them or me."

Long story, but I realized what I considered roadblocks and interference were just maybe, possibly, might-be hints to reconsider and re-direct. As I've done so, I've been amazed at the renewed energy and creativity.

Thank you for sharing with us. Wishing you all the best.

Nancy C

Mary Hagen Author said...

I hate deadlines. They torment me until I get to work. I do tend to procrastinate until the last minute. Your article motivated me. I did entered NaNoWriMo in November. I knew I wouldn't finish 50,000 words but it forced me to write every day and I finished 20,000 words and 8 chapters.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome Leslie Ann! I love the sense of balance your post promotes. Once deadlines are set--or as Vince says, promises are made--they need to be kept. Period. On the flip side of the coin, we get only one go round in this world and finding the balance that keeps us productive while living life that includes family and fun is important. We have different energy levels, different abilities to handle stress, and different demands on our time. We must each find a balance that works. To increase my productivity I need to say "no" more and be less of a perfectionist. Not that my books are perfect but that I overthink and overwork.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Vince,
Thanks for your kind words on my sunny personality. That really struck a deep chord inside of me. I am optimistic, upbeat and generally the go-to person. But for the last few years, I've found it harder to find that giddy joy about things.

Don't know if it's "retirement" (find a new word for that phase of life please :) ) or my deadlines. Or the pressure to write stories that people connect with....don't know, but realizing that I'd lost this part of me, or buried it or whatever, is what made this post happen.

On your promises post, I think it's more than keeping a promise. But I like the direction you're heading. My promises are to write stories that the readers love, but the deadline is making that happen. Make sense?

And on the LA part. My next book, Prince of Granola, was originally going to be a screenplay and when done I'll rewrite into a screenplay and submit to some producer business acquaintances who have connections at Lifetime. So cross all fingers :)

I love being here. I get to see all my buddies again.
Hugs and Merry Christmas

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Mary Preston,
Good for you. I envy that. I get mine done, but wow, they take a toll. You keep doing what you're doing.

Cindy W YES. Exactly. So what are you going to do about that sloppy part? It's not easy with all the choices in life. But step by step you'll find a way to move that sloppy into control. Let us know.

Cheers and Merry Christmas

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Yes, it's crazy and fun, but seems more crazy than fun recently. Reviews can tear my heart out and I know it's subjective, but still...

I want the fun back...in all parts of my life. No rose colored glasses, please, just the joy of making a story zing. So taking as long as it takes on this book will be an interesting journey.

Hugs and Merry Christmas

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Jessica , Yeah, I know, procrastination is akin to sloppy. It's so hard when it's not your "day job" to stay focused. REALLY HARD. But you've recognized that, so it's easier to combat it.
Go. You will do this. Get back on that wagon. :)

Jackie Will you be my pharmacist? Let us know what happens with this goal in 2016. It's worthy and doable. Just try and remember to not let it take over, and make it a reasonable goal.

One issue I had was that I wanted to get a list of books out so readers could find me and fall in love with my writing so I pushed hard...too hard.

Merry Christmas to you both and thanks for the congrats!!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Jill Congrats on not having this problem! I used to think I worked best under pressure, and maybe I do, but it's taking its toll on me and my "team."

Wilani Good for you! Stick with it. I thought I was doing okay and then I wasn't. I put this on myself. Yikes.

Merry Christmas to you both

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Leslie Ann, I agree with Vince, Your bright sunny smile welcomes in the day. Thank you for joining us here in Seekerville today. What a great post and so important. I also like what Vince said about promises. We do make promises to ourselves and actually it makes it more accountable to say promises than a self imposed deadline which can be moved around so easily - sigh. Hope you are having a fun time today.

Merry Christmas to you also.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Debby, That's interesting about your editor and the choice she gives you! Awesome.

I'm actually intrigued to see if taking the time I want/need and finding that balance will work. It needs to for me to be at my best in all my "lives", but knowing me and my penchant to keep my nose to the grindstone, it will certainly be a challenge.

The question for some might be your "books need to be written." For me that is a resounding yes, they need to be. I can't imagine not writing...it's as much lifeblood as eating. For others maybe not as much.

Anyway, we shall see how this works in 2016.

Merry Christmas,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Caryl, NOT ready. But moving that way. Christmas tree almost done. Cards ready to be signed. Christmas carols on the piano, not so much. But I'll practice them today. It's the perfect day to be in sweats and just get stuff done...on a leisurely schedule :)

Hi Missy, I hope I can make this work. Really I have to. The body will only take so much. And honestly, where is the fun if I can't enjoy it b/c I'm dizzy or I hurt or whatever? There is none.

My mom is such a trooper. I love her to death. In fact I'm going to call her right now.

Merry Christmas to you both.

Vince said...

Hi LA:

You asked:

"Don't know if it's "retirement" (find a new word for that phase of life please :) )"

I think that's easy. As an ex-academic I haven't retire from teaching college, I'm just on an extended sabbatical. Everyone seems to respect those who are on sabbatical. They are very deserving professionals. (I even got to teach "Advertising" at Tulsa University when I covered for professors who were on sabbatical.)

Since you are working for yourself, I'd grant myself an extended sabbatical. This way you'll be thought of as recharging your creative batteries with your best production yet to come!


Jana Vanderslice said...

I LOVE a good deadline! I NEED a good deadline! That pressure on my shoulders keeps me in my chair. I want to be someone people can count on.
But then my world has a lot of "uncontrollables" (if that's a word :) ). That's when prayer kicks in & God rescues me. It's AMAZING to see HIM work through the Impossible! Don't you just Love Him for that!

*And please put me in the drawing! Thanks!

Tina Radcliffe said...


I just recharged after a deadline by sleeping ten hours!! Woot.

Congratulations on your success. You worked hard for it and earned it.

I find the hardest thing is balancing those HAVE TO things in my life with my deadlines.

I was musing yesterday with my Seeker pals that apparently I am not as slow as I thought as I did have a prolific 2015 but the day job really cramped my writing along with the things like mowing the lawn which you gotta do when it is knee deep.

I can easily put off house work. I have learned to look over the mess lol.

But those darn HAVE TOs get me every time.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

THANK YOU Audra, for allowing me to post again on Seekerville. I always love being here.

Super Hugs, and Merry Christmas in sunny Mexico. Sigh.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Nancy C I'm hoping to have your same experience.

Re: Daily Word Count that I noticed on many posts. I use that myself to help control my deadlines. But I don't think I want to write every day ... or maybe I will. What I do think is that I want more time to mull over story points as they come up. Sometimes writing through the issue is the answer, but I've never taken the time to just walk and mull. Looking forward to that. It's finding balance and producing that I'm looking forward to.

Merry Christmas, Nancy,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Mary Hagen Kudos to you on your perseverance. It all adds up, each word on the paper, to a finished story.

Janet YES. Right on the nose. Audra will tell you I'm so much a perfectionist. So taking the time I need to write this book will see if that becomes worse or better.

I'm also learning the word NO. I am and always have been the first one to volunteer, to offer help, and that's good. Until it isn't. And that's the case right now.

Merry Christmas Mary and Janet,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hey Jana, YES on all counts.

Merry Christmas to you,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Tina Really, 10 hours? WOW.

Yes, you did have a prolific year. You Seekers really are amazing. And deadlines are GOOD, it's not that I don't want deadlines. But I want reasonable for me deadlines. I want to quit the always on the verge of not making them gone. Because that's what is making me crazy and stressed.

So I have to figure out how to have a deadline (does it have to be a date? Maybe that's the question) to have my books come out so my readers remember who the heck I am, and yet still love writing and not put everyone on my ticking clock.

Yes, I think it has to have a date, after re-reading that. Sigh.

Merry Christmas, Tina.
You rock,

Janet Dean said...

Leslie Ann, I hadn't thought that taking more time to write could compound the problem of perfectionism. Hmm. I pray that doesn't happen for either one of us. One thing I do know, I need time to exercise and to see people. I'm not a cave dweller though I do like hanging out in sweats sans makeup. My poor dh!


Janet Dean said...

Audra and Leslie Ann, all that snow sounds beautiful. At least from afar. We're have a dismal rainy day here.


Missy Tippens said...

Mary Hagen, 20k words for NaNoWriMo is fantastic!

Sherida Stewart said...

Welcome, Leslie Ann!

I value my "self-scheduled time" of life, i. e. retirement. Being accountable to myself alleviates "job" stress. Goals, rather than deadlines, are best for me. I want to make progress with improving my writing and moving towards publication. When I publish, your plan of going Indie will fit my life situation.....plus I like to be in control and need flexibility.

Knowing yourself....and what clicks for you....is very important for emotional health. I consider myself a writer...even if I don't want deadlines. I appreciate your "big caveat" clause. I'm content with my enjoyable, but not prolific, writing journey. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas!

marilyn leach said...

Good to see you here, LA. Thanks for your wisdom and insight on deadlines. It's easier for me to work against a deadline. My difficulty comes when I haven't a deadline in sight. I have a daily routine, but what I've found is that marketing actually cuts into my writing time. Where's that balance? I'm still working at it. Cheers

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Okay Guys,
As I'm writing Christmas cards, and sipping Pumpkin Spice coffee, I started thinking about the blurb for my 2016 book Prince of Granola . SEE, I'm crazy. But it actually felt good because I didn't HAVE to think about it. It just came.

I love that.

Back to cards.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

I love your "Self-scheduled" time of life. May I use that phrase as well? GOAL is a powerful word, and in many ways clicks with me for finding this new exhilaration vs exhaustion. Hmmm, more to let gel in my very crowded mind. Thank you.

Marilyn It's good to see you here. Marketing is so hard b/c I don't often see immediate results and we all like that. We're conditioned to instant everything. My husband a retired attorney used to say his clients wanted Insta-Law. Marketing can take hours and does cut into your writing time, unless you schedule it in say, a few hours a week on a Monday? No seriously, I spend a lot of time doing this and I have a Virtual Assistant to boot.

Merry Christmas to you both,

Sandy Smith said...

This post is certainly speaking to me because I don't keep my personal deadlines at all. Every week I will write my list of what I want to accomplish in my writing but I don't do it. I use the excuse that I have two jobs and too little time to do my chores around home, but I know those are only excuses. I am ready to stop making excuses and get busy.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Sandy, Wow, I'm so happy the post speaks to you and to others. That's awesome. Here's a tongue in cheek suggestion, instead of writing what you want to accomplish, just write:) Now, don't throw things at me.

But truly, if it's important to you, treat it as such. Nora Roberts has choice words on the subject that I can't quote exactly on this blog as it's a family blog:), but it's along the lines that if you want to write, sit in the chair and do it.

Merry Christmas, let me know how the writing goes.

Tanya Agler said...

Dear L.A., Thank you for this post. Your observations on deadlines spoke to me. Whether for a contract or self-imposed, a deadline is an important tool for guiding you in the discipline of writing. I liked what Vince pointed out in the comments that a deadline is like a promise to yourself. For me, having a concept of what to do and when to do shows me that I'm taking my career seriously, and I loved what you wrote about writing as a career.

And Tina, I absolutely hear you about the housework. Loved that comment.

Thanks for the push for deadlines and goals.

Chill N said...

Leslie Ann aka LA said...
Okay Guys,
As I'm writing Christmas cards, and sipping Pumpkin Spice coffee, I started thinking about the blurb for my 2016 book Prince of Granola . SEE, I'm crazy. But it actually felt good because I didn't HAVE to think about it. It just came.
I love that.

Wishing you lots more of that! :-)

Nancy C

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Tanya, I'm so glad my post resonated with you. Discipline is a good word to use. Thanks for friending me on FB, BTW. I'll love hearing about how you're doing.

To allwho have read this post, I want to gently call out that deadlines can lead to exhaustion, burn out or worse, quitting. Use your deadlines wisely.

I'm going to start in 2016 to find a path that allows me to produce a book, learn the craft and find time to do all the things I want, including reading :)

Exhaustion to exhilaration again.


Julie Lessman said...

WOW, LESLIE ANN, THANK YOU for this WONDERFUL POST -- VERY inspirational for me!!

The reason? I took a sabbatical last year to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing because of the very reason you stated in your second half of your blog. You said:

"I vowed in October of this year that my seventh book, Prince of Granola would take as long as it takes. And I realized that yes (and here is the caveat) I have a deadline, to get it done and done well. But not at the expense of my team, myself and my family. I think it’ll take a year to write the story, the edits and final read-through. It’s a new genre for me, a Rom-Com and I’m anxious to get it right. It’s a great story. But I have to remind myself that I have time to make it wonderful without pushing myself and everyone around me."

First of all, SUPER CONGRATS for tackling a new genre -- I did that this year, going from historical to contemporary and it's a nervous thing to do, but VERY fun and freeing.

Secondly, like you, I was pushing too hard "at the expense of my myself and my family (uh, I don't have a team and now I feel kinda inept :)), but most importantly, at the expense of my relationship with God, I think, which often took equal billing with my writing. That's why I have backed off from traditional publishing for a season with its do-or-die deadlines and tiptoed very carefully into the indie waters where I feel God is more in control than my deadlines. Or at least I hope He is!

Anyway, it's always good to get another author's perspective that coincides with one's own, so thank you for your post, Leslie Ann -- it blessed me.

Hugs and may God continue to bless you in your career.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Wow, Julie, not to be overly sentimental, but your post brought tears to my eyes. It's always hard to share a something personal and this new path, while exciting was difficult to air in a public forum. Almost like I'm admitting I've done it wrong until now, except I know I haven't, I just have to change.

To have someone else experience this (and Julie isn't the only one) makes me feel not so alone on this new journey. Not so wrong.

Good luck on your journey into Indie publishing for a season and let us know how it goes.

I hope you're right (pretty sure you will be) that a new genre is freeing AND fun.

Can't wait. (Notice above how today I was already tempted to write a bit of my blurb because it simply came to me. That was a great feeling.)

Merry Christmas and blessings to you,
Leslie Ann

Edwina said...

Leslie Ann,

Thank you for this thought provoking post. I usually don't have a problem meeting deadlines - in fact, I feel i work better when under a deadline. My challenge is like several have written - I've allowed those deadlines - and even time/responsibilities between deadlines - to take precedence over my relationship with God, my husband and my family. So, thank you for the wake-up call.

Please enter my name for the drawing!


Barbara Fox said...

I think the self imposed deadlines are the hardest for me to honor. Self employed for most of my life, I work well under deadlines for clients, but my personal work gets cast to the side in their favor. I have a blog that I've written for 6 years, always on my own loose schedule (or when inspiration hits). The blog has a good following for its field. I also have a bunch of non fiction projects in the works that need to be finished for my field/career- have been asked for by readers- so this fall I decided to quit my regular work to spend the next 2 years on writing, learning, finding my way and determininge if this should be a permanent path (God willing). I've been trying to get organized (sorting through social media, learning Scrivener, learning about the fiction writing craft) trying to make a plan that includes non fiction and fiction. (I think I have spent my life trying to organize). I'm giving myself simple deadlines- a start date to sit down and write a certain amount each day. A day for blog posts to go up (not waiting for inspiration), a plan to complete certain non fictions. It makes me slightly nervous because it's harder for me to be accountable to myself than to others. I have a fiction (my first) that I'd like to enter in a contest but it needs rewriting and I've no idea how long that should take so I hesitate to pick a contest- (something I'd not thought about until I found Seekerville)- I'm trying to set simple deadlines and goals so I can have a few successes with myself before ratcheting up the pressure (I lean toward being an overachiever and over immersed). This long comment intending to say I appreciate today's post by LA. It helped me to realize that the deadlines I set are as important as the deadlines set for me. Thank you LA. And please enter me.

Pam Hillman said...

I'm a day late commenting, but when this came into my inbox yesterday, I determined that I would read it, but I couldn't right then. Not YESTERDAY.

Because YESTERDAY was my contracted deadline and everything had to be pushed to the side while I met that deadline. I've never missed a contracted deadline and I don't intend to start now. I did get behind my self-imposed schedule, pushing more of this book up to the last couple of weeks than I'd wanted, and all the blame for that rests squarely on ME.

My mother and I went on a cruise (yes, it was wonderful) the first week of December, a cruise that had been booked almost 2 years and had been delayed a year to the day due to a life-and-death family emergency on Thanksgiving Day 2014. I'd intended to have the book completely finished before the cruise, but life, marketing, business and, yes, procrastination interfered. No worries. I still had 2 weeks after the cruise.

I wrote while on the cruise, adding about 3K to the manuscript. I came home still confident I could get it done. A church dinner, a book signing, husband out of town unexpectedly (out of state funeral) for 2 days left me in charge of a herd of cattle with a whole pasture full of first-time-about-to-be new mamas to watch. I was a basket case watching those mamas, and my writing time suffered.

Long story short, I did it. I met my deadline with a tight, well-told story. All the loose ends are tied up, the hero and heroine fall in love gradually, and there are some cool twists that I love. I wrote 5K in 2 days, AND edited it all. And I LOVE IT.

Emailed to my editor last night at 9:31 pm.


Oh, for about 24 hours, maybe....

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Pam,
Late but here and still free I hope? 5K in two days? That makes me so tired. I know I've done it and I was mentally mush.

When is this book coming out?

Merry Christmas and super hugs,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Edwina, I'm so glad anything I had to say offered anything to anyone and a wake up call is awesome, so thank you! I usually work better under pressure, but I suffer for it in the long run. And everyone around me or associated with the book suffers. So that is what I'm going to change...wish me luck.

Merry Christmas to you,

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Kudos to you for taking the plunge, and I hope it all goes well. Finding the way is a huge first step and not the last as you know, as the way/road compass points move all the time. You've made a huge change in your life and it's hard, we don't like change even if it's good for us.

If I may make a suggestion? Rewrite the book, do what you think needs to be done to it, then pick your contest(s). Not the other way around. I believe that is putting the cart before the horse and will push you in the wrong way, re: time, content decisions, etc.

Get the book done the best you can at that moment, and on to the next one. Then spend time researching all the things you need to do in this career, but don't let any of that stop you from writing. And writing with life balance :)

Hugs, check in on FB or contact me and let me know how you're doing, or if you need a pat on the back or a cyber hug.

Merry Christmas to you,

ohiohomeschool said...

I would love to win your book. Great article.
Becky B.

Deanna Stevens said...

May you have a very Merry Christmas!
I'm a reader & deadlines for reviews? Sticky notes telling me to get to it!
LOL .. doesn't always work though :)