If you have deadlines for a writing project, whether it is finishing a book on time for a specific promotion, or writing a guest to promote your work on someone’s blog, it can be tough to get the writing done on time, with the other stuff you need to do like marketing. In this guest, author H.M. Clarke shares some great tips to help you make your writing deadlines.
Working to a deadline can be pretty tough, especially if it is one that you have set for yourself. (This article is a good example – I should have had this written yesterday) Missing your deadlines can be frustrating, annoying, and you end up mentally kicking yourself for not keeping to it. But it does not always have to be this way. Here are five very simple steps to help you meet your writing deadlines no matter what obstacle comes your way:
Prioritize Your Projects
We all have our writing projects (novels, short stories, children’s books, articles, etc). We also have our personal deadlines we’re trying to meet, such as weekly word or page count goals for our novels, screenplays (or blog posts….).
Don’t worry if you feel like you are climbing an endless mountain. What matters is that you are working toward a strategy that works best for your individual writing goals.
For me, my goal is to become a full time writer. In order for that to happen I need to make enough money to make the transition from my current job to my writing career. The same can be said for your writing goals. Therefore you need to devote time to projects that are profitable or can give you access to a wider audience for your work (or whatever your main goal is).
Place your prioritized projects into a ‘loose’ schedule to get a better idea of what needs to be done. Mapped out like this is a good way to see what free time you have, and to plan for ‘stretch’ time for projects that might need a bit more time to complete.
Be Realistic, Not Negative
Creating a realistic writing schedule is not an exact science (I am still trying to work out mine). No matter how hard we try, there are going to be unexpected setbacks that will cause delays with our writing projects.
There will be times we will be unable to meet a deadline, and it is important to not feel like a failure when this happens. What is important is to learn from the experience and ask yourself why you did not meet the deadline, and what you can do next time to prevent it from happening in the future. Do not give in to any negative thoughts, try and focus on the two points above if things start going awry (This is easier said than done, but it does get easier with practice).
No Procrastination! Do Your Cleaning Ahead of Time
Have you ever noticed the second a writing deadline starts looming; we suddenly feel the urge to do those dishes, dust, vacuum and paint the garden shed? (I also like to bake….hmmm Cookies…No! I must not bake, must finish this article….).
Take note of your main procrastination triggers (the random things you turn to when avoiding your writing), and take care of them ahead of time. I call this “constructive procrastination,” and it can take a lot of will power to keep yourself on target to reach your goals.
Do not be Afraid to Break Things…
While we crave as much time to write as possible, once we have made the effort to get the time, we end up with writer’s block. There’s a large chunk of time sitting right in front of us, and we know the blinking cursor will not move on its own, so we panic and resort to Facebook stalking and funny cat videos (As we have already done all the housework).
The more intimidating the project, the more you need to organise your time. Strip away the intimidation by breaking down the project into smaller, manageable tasks.
Break it up and work on each stage of your goal, and take a small break of about 5 to 10 minutes in between stages to let your mind relax, so you can let go of the previous stage and can fully focus on the next one.
Use Tools to Help Stay Organized and on Target
Every writer has their own way of organizing their writing goals. Some use a checklist; some use their email calendar; some use whiteboards, notebooks or desk calendars. (I use a notebook/diary).
Find the tools that best work for you, and you will be well on your way to meeting your writing deadlines without fear. Remember that a writer’s best tools are a pen and paper J
As writers, we become very passionate about our writing and put too much pressure on ourselves to perform at a pace that only a machine could. We then end up disappointed when we only complete a fraction of what we set out to achieve.
By prioritizing your writing projects based on potential income and audience reach, and setting realistic deadlines, you will then be able to incorporate all your projects into a schedule. With a schedule, you will always know what you can and cannot do.
What’s your strategy for meeting writing deadlines during especially hectic times?
H.M. Clarke is an Australian writer based in Ohio. She is the author of the Scifi novel, The Enclave, The Way to Freedom series and several paranormal novels. You can find out more about Hayley and her books at http://www.hmclarkeauthor.com/ and you can stalk her on Twitter @HMClarkeAuthor