Dastardly Deadlines

 Manuscript Targets

One of the toughest things for me to deal with is self-motivation and deadlines. Even when I’m dealing with a fantastically set-in-stone deadline like NaNoWriMo (finish (win!) by November 30, or I wear my failure on my profile for an entire year) I procrastinate. I’m not good at Butt In Chair mechanics.

So when a good friend I’m beta-reading for threatened to withhold further story until I promised to actually finish a novel and get it transcribed, I had a choice. I could roll my eyes and say “whatever”, and thus deny myself tasty, free fiction. I could fake it and lie to her and get it anyway. Or I could use this as actual motivation to keep myself moving forward, and really grow as a writer.

The first wasn’t even a consideration. I like her story, and to give up on it now would crush me. Plus, I’d have to wait potentially years for it to come out, as she wants to traditionally publish it, and waiting for that long would suck.

The second option was tempting, but let’s be honest: what would be the point of lying? It would be like cheating at solitaire.

So. I set up a schedule. A deadline. And actually decided to do this thing.

March 25th, 2013. An estimated 80,000 words of handwritten fiction. If I can get past my own chicken scratch, I will have something I have not had in years:  A completed first draft of a novel which, in my humble opinion, is good enough to seek publication.

So, I’ve set up a spreadsheet with which to track my progress. I’ve been terrible the last couple of weeks, but with some dedication, I can still make my deadline.

Man, how I hate deadlines. But they work.

I love handwriting my novels; it makes it easier to be distraction free, and I can do it literally anywhere, regardless of the presence of wireless networks, chargers, or power sources. Heck, as long as I have light, I don’t need no stinkin’ power! It just means that I have to transcribe it, and that takes time — time away from my fun pursuits like Bejeweled Blitz and reading Facebook memes. But now I’m developing some actual discipline to get this stuff out of its spidery handwritten journal to a real, editable, Scrivener-based computer document. And though I still have a long way to go, it feels good.

So here I go, off to defeat a deadline. Think I can make it? What deadlines have you set for yourself?

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12 thoughts on “Dastardly Deadlines

  1. Writing friends are great – they can really kick your rear in gear. I can’t believe you can hand-write a novel…

  2. Wait. It’s wrong to cheat at solitaire?

  3. Douglas Adams had a good quote about deadlines:

    “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

    Yeah, that about sums it up.

  4. Discipline is so not fun. I appreciate this post because I have been circling my short story/novella for a while, shark-like, coming back to nibble here and there but not dedicating myself to its completion. Smack on hand. Must stop that…

  5. OK, I’m going out on a limb here and sayin’–you’re going to have a lot more time once you get used to using the computer for writing. Give it a bit, but then, Deadline Dread will be a thing of the past.

    • @Jacqui Murray: I do use my computer for much of my writing, but the problem is that I get distracted SO easily. WRiting by hand makes me more productive, and the end result is a higher quality piece. 🙂 It’s not that I’m unused to computer writing (I’ve been computer writing since the 90s, and use it every year for NaNoWriMo – no time to handwrite!) it’s that I prefer the uncomplicated, visceral pleasure of handwriting. I have much less editing to do this way. 😉 What time I gain writing straight from head to computer, I lose editing!

  6. In order to make my deadlines (and I do so enjoy hearing them go by), I tend to chisel out time and forbid myself from the other distractions. So – say from 8-9pm – no TV, turn off the router and send the kids to their rooms for bed time. It worked much better during NaNo, when I was writing the entire time. I have found that during my current re-writing/editing process, it is not working as well as I would like.

  7. Some deadlines are easier to ignore than others.

  8. Bloody complete it, or you’ll be damned well laughed at, I shall stop supplying you with ebooks, not let you read anything of mine before publication (and you’re usually first outside the family), and I WILL LET MY CHILD MOCK YOU!

    She’s good at that.

  9. Ah, Marc, if only I had a friend like you laughing at me and driving me forward.

  10. I’m not good at setting my own deadlines, as in be done by thus-and-so date, but I’m pretty good at the continued march, unless I get distracted by like Facebook. I do that too often.

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