Setting Story Deadlines

Deadlines work

Job application needs to be finished by the 21st February.

Brilliant, I can do that.

Interview in two months.

Perfect, I’ll set aside some time every week to prepare. I’ll be more than ready.

Complete a novel by the end of the year.

Um, nope. Not even close…

Why is that?

I am a writer, don’t you know? And writers suffer from crippling self-doubt. In fact, they can go from feeling stupidly proud of a piece of work to think that the piece of work is the worst thing they’ve ever had the misfortune of laying their pretty green eyes on. This can happen in a single day. Perhaps, even in a single hour.

Writers can spend years and years revising and ‘improving’ a story only for it not to see the light of day.

Writers can spend many years starting and failing to finish anything. It begins well, and then they get bored or frustrated or disillusioned with the project, and they abandon it for something fresh and juicy.

So, what do I do?

Set yourself a deadline.

Another one?

Yes. Deadlines work. If you want to get the novel finished, you’ll need one. And you’ll need to stick to it.

Some tips:

Make sure you set realistic deadlines:

Realistic: Complete first draft within three months.

Unrealistic: Complete first draft within a month.

Set yourself some mini goals to help you achieve your main goals:

Main goal: Complete outline by Saturday, 31st March 2018.

Mini Goal: Complete outline up until the midpoint by the end of Saturday, 10th March 2018.

When you complete these goals, celebrate them.

Pop open the champagne type of celebration? Nope, a bubble bath and a creamy hot chocolate will do. Heavenly…

Once you’ve completed a goal, move onto the next one:

Main goal: Complete first draft by Friday, 18th May, 2018.

Anticipate setbacks and prepare for them:

Editor can’t edit your work? Do you panic? Give up? Change the deadline to the end of next year?

Or do you look at your list of possible editors and get in touch with the second one on your list?

Remember that nobody’s perfect and even if you come back to this novel years later and think that it’s a pile of ugh, then remember, too, that you will not have been the first author to think such a thought, and that you most definitely won’t be the last.

Okay, by the end of December 2018.

What’s going to happen then?

I will have written a novel.


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