But it always cracks me up when these television crews are working against a deadline. "We only have five hours left. Will we make it?" I wonder what the penalty is for not meeting the arbitrary deadline. Will they lose their permit? Will they be forced to pay overtime to the crew? What's the big deal?
As writers, unless we're working with an editor, there really isn't official deadlines. If we don't finish our manuscript, synopsis, or query, the sun will still rise and set, and the world will still keep turning.
So why set deadlines for ourselves? Here are my thoughts:
- Deadlines make us accountable--Especially if we tell someone else. I know that when I voice my goals and deadlines to my critique partners, I'm more likely to meet them. Who wants to be shamed in front of their critique partners? Having them read my early drafts is painful enough ;)
- Deadlines keep us focused--If I didn't set deadlines, even arbitrary ones, I'd squander valuable writing time with useless distractions. SQUIRREL! Knowing I want to accomplish X amount of revision pages in X amount of time helps me push forward and get 'er done.
- Deadlines help us finish--Sure, book ideas are great. And sure, outlines are wonderful. But if we don't finish a manuscript, those great ideas don't do us any good at all. And if we don't finish, we can't move on to the second draft, or the third, or the 20th, where the sharp edges smooth out.
So how about you, fellow scriveners? Do you set personal deadlines, even if they're arbitrary? Do you have handy tips that can help the rest of us stay focused? And if you're published, or soon to be published, do you have trouble sticking to your editor's deadline?