The life of a writer is a difficult one. Finding motivation to sit and work on your own projects is one thing. Finding the time to do so is another. One thing that helps is proper time management. In other words, setting a deadline for yourself on when things will get done.
The importance of deadlines cannot be understated. When you get the ever-present time crunch and an ever larger list of things you can barely keep up with a handy schedule can help any aspiring (or struggling) writer keep on-task.
The Importance of Deadlines
Deadlines are the deadliest supervillains a writer faces. Much like most foes, however, the frightening Deadline is also one of the things that will shape the writer into the best writer they can be. Setting deadlines for yourself—and sticking to them—will help you develop milestones in your personal progress. This will if developed properly, assist with clients, writing work, non-writing work, family, and school. Having a reputation for being reliable increases client willingness to continue work.
Setting deadlines also give you somewhere to set your sights. Consider that any novel was written word by painstaking word, page by terrible page, all of these one at a time. Stuck staring at a blank page? Set a goal of a thousand words, for whatever date you choose. Make sure you have a thousand words written afterward, even if most of them consist of a grocery list or whatever is staring at you from the pantry shelf.
But while setting deadlines is fine and all, setting unrealistic deadlines is just setting yourself up for failure.
Given a food budget, a maid, a housekeeper, a personal chef, a chauffeur, and an island getaway most writers could gleefully pound out 70k words in the space of four measly weeks. But let’s be real: most of us won’t have that available.
You have to work for your food, your rent, and (most important of all) your internet. You have to clean up after yourself (or at least, most of us feebly attempt to once in a blue moon.) Food requires a supermarket trip, time at a restaurant, or a drive-thru window. If you have pets, children, or even a single loved one that lives nearby, consider how much of your time is eaten up still. Now consider juggling all this and a full-time job!
Make sure your workflow and your deadlines mesh with your current life. For someone stuck in the rat-race, writing a modest goal of 2000 words a week, on a consistent basis, ensures that a whole new 70k word minimum novel, in purely rough draft format, can be completed in most of a year. That doesn’t count edits, content or substance reads, or even the admittedly terrible query process for publication. But still- that’s your first manuscript (or second, or third.)
Make your schedule fit your life. Or make your life fit your schedule, if possible.
Summing It All Up
Schedules suck, but they’re effective at making progress work. Get out there, write down what needs to be written, and get it done already! The only thing that’s stopping you is your (missing) deadlines!