Deadlines: Somebody Help Me, Please.

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

If there was ever a nemesis of the writer, the deadline would be it.

Second only to writer’s block, deadlines have haunted writers since there were evil men in business suits to give them. Don’t they realize this level of genius takes time?

“Deadlines just aren’t real to me until I’m staring one in the face.”
― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

But putting our biased anger aside, deadlines do have one single redeeming quality. They keep us on track. If we didn’t have deadlines to meet, what would be to keep us from writing and editing on forever to the point where we’re not even sure what our own names are? What about projects and ideas that sit and collect dust in the back corners of drawers? Will they ever be completed? The answer is no. Without deadlines, writers would be lost.

“Not for nothing are they called deadlines.
By the time you reach the final line, sir, you are indeed dead.”
― Avi, Lord Kirkle’s Money

So how do we cope? I myself have what seem to be thousands of topics to research, papers to begin, stories to edit, and deadline-induced tears to cry. What then is the only saving grace we authors have at our disposal?

The planner.

“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”
– Rita Mae Brown

Yes, the key to deadline success is as simple as a planner. Like tiny calendars we carry with us, planners contain our livelihoods. Writing down mini goals and smaller more manageable deadlines (1,000 words a day, 20 minute breaks, etc.) is absolutely essential to keeping stress low and productivity high. Though I like to use the old-school journal version, many writers may benefit from planner apps on their phones as well. The trick is to stick to it.

“People always ask me if I’m into sports, and I say, ‘Well, isn’t writing a sport?
If you’re doing it right, and you have a deadline, you should be sweating.’”
– Jarod Kintz

Keep a larger calendar in your workspace and mark off when you’ve completed each goal (I swear there is no greater feeling than erasing something from your to-do list), set daily reminders on your phone, have an hour-by-hour plan, do whatever it takes to become organized. Planning is just about the only thing we can do to keep ourselves sane. Let’s keeps our heads, people. Write it down.

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2 thoughts on “Deadlines: Somebody Help Me, Please.

  1. I was encouraged at a recent workshop led by Ray Bradbury’s biographer when he said Bradbury, as prolific as he was, sometimes missed deadlines when the muse had simply left him. He wrote every day, but some days wasn’t able to complete specific projects. It gave me hope.

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