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.
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)