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Deadlines: Taking Yourself Seriously

  • September 23, 2019
  • Blog


One of the hardest things about being an indie author is the fact that there’s no external force demanding a due date. You can write when you want and publish when you want. Though the freedom is exhilarating, it’s also hard to remember that writing is a real job—not a hobby (as many like to think), or something we do effortlessly as the mood strikes us.

If we’re professional writers, we need to treat our time and effort professionally.

I admit that it’s often a struggle for me to stay away from social media and the TV (and the refrigerator) as I put words to paper. And it’s easy to let it be the last thing on my to-do list when a hundred chores are clamoring for attention.

That’s why creating a deadline for your work is a good idea. Deadlines are motivating. Make one up and stick to it. You might need to play around with what’s best in a given time frame. For example, setting a ridiculously competitive deadline that you have no way of making unless you give up food or sleep is setting yourself up for failure. And setting one that’s too far away is terrible for procrastinators. (That’s me, by the way.)

Deadlines that are too long (“I’ll have the book written by August 2020!”) may need to be broken down into “I need to have five pages written by Friday.” Then keep to it.

Realistic deadlines don’t just make the work happen, they create a better mindset, a straightening of the spine from acknowledging that this is your profession, not a frivolous pastime. It gives you a reason to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t meet you for coffee tomorrow, I’m under a deadline.”

And you will finish your work.

So go look at this week’s schedule and see what you can do with it. You have a deadline.


  • Ken Fleisher • September 23, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Excellent advice! Instead of aiming for “five pages by Friday” why not make it a weekly target? “10 pages per week,” for example. When you do this, AND you track your progress (as in, on a chart that is in plain view where you will see it every day) it helps to keep you accountable. For anyone struggling to be creative on a schedule, I recommend the book “The Accidental Creative.”

  • J. M. Levinton • September 23, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I used that as an example. 🙂 Everyone needs to find the speed that works for them and it can take experimentation before finding the balance that’s most realistic for each individual.

    For the first half of my novel Magical Ties, I didn’t track as much as wrote when I could. After that, I played around with goals until I was happy with two pages a day, three days a week. Since I knew what my word count was going to be, I had a good idea when the first draft would be completed.

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