The Ever-Helpful, Horror-Inducing Deadline

Mar 13, 2012

I'm a deadline kinda gal. You may (or mostly likely not) have noticed my lack of presence in the blogosphere over the last week again, but this time it's due to deadlines, not sickness.

Deadlines? you may ask. You're an unpublished writer, what kind of deadlines do you have?

Well, self-inflicted ones, of course. But I'm pretty darn serious about them.

Right now, I'm actually behind on my deadline to finish my rewrites on TUGL. I was supposed to be done by March 1, but with all three of us at my house getting sick, it did not happen. So my new deadline is March 15, and I should hit that without a problem. You see, I have another deadline of May 4 for this story, and it's actually an outside deadline.

I'm pitching to an agent at the conference I'm going to. Eeeps!

I still have to send this baby out to beta readers and try to incorporate their changes before then. It's going to be a tight schedule, and I've fully accepted I may have to go to the conference with some tweaks still not made.

Deadlines are something that cause some people panic attacks, and something some people ignore. Self-given deadlines are even harder to hit. I'm usually pretty dedicated about my deadlines, but there are times (like with this one) that I'm glad mine are still flexible. But in general, why the dedication to my own arbitrary deadlines?

Because deadlines are the best tool I've found to give me discipline. If I want to be serious about this writing/author thing, I have to BE SERIOUS about it. I have to write even when I'm tired, or not feeling "the muse." Most days, it's not a problem to sit my butt down and write because I sincerely enjoy it, but for those days when I'm not feeling it, it's the deadlines that keep me on task. And I've been grateful for them, because in the last two years, I've written two novels because of self-set deadlines.

So, my friends, I'm curious about your thoughts on deadlines. Do you find them to be helpful motivation, or just joy-killers? Do you use them? How well do you stick to them if you do? Do you use an alternate form of inducing discipline and motivation? 

And hey, anyone interested in being a beta reader for me? You can find a description of TUGL here. I'm willing to swap, either right away or whenever your manuscript is ready. :)

image source


shelly said...

I make deadlines for myself, too. I was supposed to be completely done with all revisions by now to Secondhand Shoes. Ha! I'm just now printing the MS to send to my Editor-for-Hire but this is how I get stuff done.

However, I don't always write when I'm ill. I've got Chronic Fatigue mish-mashed with a couple of autoimmune diseases and sometimes my brain is too foggy to write so I read or edit for others during those periods.

Jenilyn Collings said...

I have deadlines more as a bribe. Things like I can go see a movie when it comes out if I finish by a certain date. If I don't have some incentive, I don't take them so seriously.

LaChelle said...

Go Shallee, go! :) I love deadlines, and I love them even more when I'm able to beat them. I set a pretty ambitious writing goal for myself this year, so I've been trying to keep myself in line with my mini-deadlines, to stay on track. Good luck with your pitch!

(btw, Darren and I would love to be Beta readers, if you're still looking.)

Leigh Covington said...

Good luck with your agent pitch Shallee! That is exciting. I know you'll be awesome. And I think deadlines are great. They're important for all of us.

BTW - that cartoon is hilarious. Love it!

Joseph S. Ramirez said...

Deadlines = Useful

And even as unpublished writers... should lightening strike and we become published, we'll probably be working with deadlines anyway. Why not practice being professional beforehand?

David P. King said...

I need to take my self-imposed deadlines more seriously. That's for sure. I make them, but follow-through is what I struggle with. Your thoughts will help me straighten this line out. Thanks! :)

Jennie Bennett said...

I used self-inflicted deadlines, but I'm often very lax about them. boo! I want to be done with my book before storymakers as well, but I don't know if that's going to happen. You are too cool for keeping to schedule!

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

At one point in my life, setting deadlines was the worst thing I could do. I'd wallow in guilt and self-pity and not get anything done. At this point in my life, I can't live without them! I think it just depends on who you are and what's going on in your life.

DL Hammons said...

I have no problems working to deadlines, but I really don't have to set them for myself because I don't need them. When I have THE FEVER of a new book come over me, motivation is the least of my worries. But everybody is wired a little bit differently, and if that works for you...then good for you! :)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I find deadlines motivate me. I set them for myself all the time. Good luck pitching your book! I pitched mine to a bunch of agents at a conference in January and it was a very worthwhile experience, though scary at times. :)

Emily R. King said...

I prefer to write under a deadline. Whenever I start revisions my deadline is usually ASAP. :) I'll put a cap on number of days or weeks, depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.

Good luck meeting your deadline!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Hey there Shallee--by beta reader, do you mean chapter by chapter? I can crit chapters pretty quickly, so I'd be able to do that if you're interested. My email is

As far as deadlines, I embrace them. I challenge myself to beat them. I'm a crazy writer that way. That said, I've had some trouble taking off with my second novel, but now that the story is rolling,I seriously need to set a deadline for finishing the book.

Johanna Garth said...

New follower from Caitlin's blog. *waves* I'm a deadline gal too. I think, as a writer, you kind of have to set those drop dead dates and stick to them.

Meredith said...

I don't do set deadlines, but I do daily goals (x number of words for a day, or revise x number of chapters). That keeps me motivated and working.

Cherie Reich said...

I'm such a procrastinator that I have a tendency to keep moving back my own deadlines. It's really terrible.

And don't worry if your manuscript isn't completely polished to a shine when you pitch an agent. Most agents understand this, and if they like the pitch, they'll wait for the manuscript to be ready. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I loved to swap beta reads. I am ready when you are!!! Your deadline to reply to this comment is 24 hours! :)jk

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Shallee,

(Cool name BTW:) Thanks for the follow and am doing the same:)

Re. deadlines... I love them as much as I love me some Irish Yoga :)

Deadlines also keep me focused :)

Tanya Reimer said...

HAHAHA! Your cartoon made me think of this one I have over my desk. The guy is at the office and he says, "I'll have to work all weekend to get this done." the other photos are of him at home, writing in bed, on the toilette, and in the tub! Been there! Deadlines.

Your book sounds awesome. I would love to beta read it. Pitching to an agent in person just sounds sooooo flipping cool.

Beth said...

I'll set a deadline and then change it *hides face* Yep, Mrs. Procrastination, that's me :)

Good Luck with your pitch!!!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I definitely work best with deadlines because it's so easy to get distracted without them.
Best of luck with your pitching!

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