Writer’s Tool Box: Deadlines

This afternoon I spent some time exchanging emails with yet another editor. From her examples I gather, she is exactly the kind of editor I need, but, at least right now, I’m not certain our schedules are going to synchronize.

I have a high degree of confidence that I will have the manuscript for Up Slope in second draft by early March.  After that, its simply a matter of ping pong with an editor to put the final polish on my next published book. My target for publication is the middle of April.

The reason I’m writing about deadlines today is because I’ve got many. These are self imposed and I use them every day to manage the writing process. They are one of the more important tools I keep in my writing tool box.

Drive to Completion

One of the most important features of this tool is that it helps push a writing project toward completion. Without deadlines and project milestones my super slacker powers take over and things just sort of fall by the way side. A complete story idea, stored in memory for only a short while, may never make it onto the page. When I schedule out a project, setting dates and critical milestones along the way, I have to use some guess work, but the intent is to ensure I have the reins all the way until publication.

All along the way I can evaluate if I’m on track to complete the project on time or if I need to get the Led out and knock out the words at hyper speed. Deadlines force me to evaluate how I’m doing and ensure that I get to the end of the project.

Accountability

There is myth out there, repeated endlessly by the nefarious they, which tags Independent authors lower in the literary hierarchy because they don’t know how to deliver a project. Because we don’t have the same kind of external management that a traditionally published author must deal with, we’re somehow less capable of delivering on time.

Yeah, sure, I don’t have a contract or an editor telling me when something is due. My deadlines are my own, but because I know they give my writing projects a level of accountability I stick to them.

The accountability is between me, as the author, and my audience. Sure, it is completely self imposed, but it is no less important because it is internal to the project. Deadlines in writing always come back to the reader. Publishing when you’ve said you will means that people can look forward to your next story. This can actually help build anticipation and may even invigorate future sales.

Conclusion

I’ve tried in the past to pants my way to a complete story and the problem is that I never get there. An it is not just laziness. I get distracted and confused easily if there is not a target for me to aim at.

Rigorous and complete management of a writing project is probably one of the best ways to remove confusion and provide focus. Even from within the creative process. I have sat in front of my laptop and found myself contemplating the many ways a story might go only to realize that I’m wasting critical golden time. The deadline and my dedication to it makes it possible for me to pick a story path and stick to it.

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