Deadlines, I Needz ’em!

Timephoto © 2008 Alan Cleaver | more info (via: Wylio)I read this blog post from Shannon Stacey  the other day and it struck a nerve (make sure you read the post she links to as well). This quote from Ms. Stacey especially struck me,

“Essentially, protecting the work means making it a priority, not the thing you do when everything else is done. Because guess what else is never done.”

There is ALWAYS something to do, and it always seems more important than sitting down and dancing my fingers across the keyboard.

I also need to protect my work and I think I know how. Deadlines. Two weeks ago, I had 3 deadlines in one week, it was a crazy week anyway, and on top of it, I was getting sick, but you know what, I met all my deadlines. What that tells me is that without deadlines, I am a meandering mess. It is too easy for me to put administrative or domestic tasks first or lose an hour to social media under the guise of “research”. I write for two blogs and contribute here. I’m a contributor to our town newspaper and I have a bunch of fiction work in various states of competition. I’m also looking to pick up more freelance work. Sometimes my days feel really crazy but unproductive, but if I truly focus on the writing, set deadlines and talk about them out loud, I’m betting I’ll get a lot more done. As a matter of fact, I know this to be true in a “take my advice I’m not using it” kind of way. It is time to start using my own advice.

The kids have been out of school since last Wednesday.  We’ve played Wii Sports Resort, eaten turkey and read a Magic Treehouse or six. I’ve also used the time to empty my inbox, tackle my to-do list, start and mostly finish, my Christmas shopping. I sat down last night and made a list of the things I want to get done this week. I want to write 3 blog posts and write at least 2,000 words of fiction. My younger child once again has a faucet for a nose and there are the usual amount of domestics tasks to be competed this week, plus Christmas planning and prep (cookies to bake gifts to wrap etc.), but, my competitive side is saying this is can be done inside of two days with focus and the determination to stay off of Twitter. I’ll update this post on Friday and let you now how I did. How’s THAT for a public deadline?

Oooh, and looky here, I already wrote one of my blog posts 🙂

What about you?  How do you “protect the work”?

ETA, well, I managed 3 blog posts, but only about 600 words of fiction. I’m happy with the progress, but would feel better if I’d met both goals.  On to next week I guess.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at and Her words have appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.

8 thoughts on “Deadlines, I Needz ’em!

  1. Lee, wow, if it wasn’t for the family stuff in your post, I thought I had written it. I also had 3 deadlines a week ago. All due on a Friday. I wasn’t feeling well, I had some place to be outside of my office for several hours each day that week, yet someone how managed to get the work done.

    When there is a dollar amount tied to my work, I manage just fine. Self-imposed deadlines, though, are another story. I let them slide no matter how wrong I know it is.

    I’m struggling to create a schedule I can work with each day to protect my work, but it has yet to materialize for more than 3 days in a row. Something else always comes up! I think it’ll be my biggest goal for the next several months – find a way to protect the work.

  2. LOL, I think it is something that all writers struggle with, especially those who work from home. The flexibility is a blessing and a curse.

  3. … and on that note, I’m hopping out of my google reader and back to the task at hand … 😉

    Before I do, though, one note:
    I’ve been trying to carve out 30 minutes each day to work on my fiction. It doesn’t seem like much (and, in reality, it isn’t), but you’d be amazed at how tough it can be to keep that time “sacred.” So often, it gets unceremoniously gobbled up by administrative tasks, housework, idle chatter, and that bloody “networking” (aka – Facebook & Twitter).
    SO … I’ve put my fiction writing first. Literally. When I get up in the morning, I do my yoga and then – before waking my daughter or turning on the computer or putting in the laundry – I sit down with pen and notebook and spend 30 minutes working on my ideas and my outline.

    So far, my experiment has yielded convincing results: literally putting my writing first makes a big difference in my ability to meet that meager goal.

  4. Great post. I need deadlines as well, and find it so hard to self impose them. Love your plan Lee. And Jamie, writing first thing makes so much sense! Today is about getting December planned, and adding writing time to the plan. Happy Monday all!

  5. I live for deadlines. Was one of those college students who would actually wait on an assignment, tempting the fates as it were.

    Although I still enjoy a good deadline or two (can you say 39K by midnight tomorrow?) I now, with a bit of maturity under my belt also realize the value of some organization and pre-planning.


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