Category Archives: Deadlines

How NOT to Dread Deadlines

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Why are deadlines important? Because publishing is a schedule based business. When a book receives a publication date, everything moves toward the date when that book goes to the printer. If the book isn’t ready, printing presses stand idle, and time is money.

Many authors feel enslaved by deadlines. But what if how they think about them could change that? On his leadership web page, author and motivational speaker, Stan Toler, offers five positive ways to perceive deadlines. He says:

Deadlines are friends. You created them to assist you. Treat them with respect and they will be loyal to you. Ignore them and they may haunt you. They are not there to harass you; they are there to help you. Like a friend, you check on them, give them space, and remember their birthdates and anniversaries.

Deadlines are property lines. They are the imaginary spaces where your ideas and ideals live. As property lines, they need to be detailed, recorded, and guarded from intruders—such as time-wasters or attention-grabbers.

Deadlines are destination points. Like entering a travel location on your GPS, you create a deadline so you can journey toward it. There may be “points of interest” along the way, but their destination is your end goal.

Deadlines are managers. You gave them permission to keep you on the straight and narrow. In return, they give you friendly reminders of neglect, lack of focus, or impulsive behavior. You don’t need to fear them. They are not immovable. And if they are not flexible, they may need to be replaced.

Deadlines are volunteer staff. You appointed them, not vice versa. They are the stagehands, but you run the show. They embody your vision. You are only bound to them by loyalty. They have no overruling authority.”

Incorporate Toler’s suggestions when you write and revise. Remember–you control deadlines; they don’t control you. Meeting, even exceeding, them is a sure way to forge a great relationship with your publisher.

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Filed under Deadlines, The Business of Writing, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized, working with editors, Writer's responsibility

5 Reasons To Let Your Writing Rest

3703031119_6ef46dc3de_zToo often, a writer rushes toward a deadline, and frustration builds to the bitter end, until finally the manuscript is finished and ready to send to the editor. Does that sound like you?

As a freelance writer I’ve learned to allow my writing to rest. I call this “incubation time,” and I always build it into my project schedules. Incubation time is a little like allowing bread dough to rise before you bake it. Without that rising time, the bread comes out flat.

There are several good reasons to schedule some incubation time:

1.  It settles the frustration. How many times have you written, rewritten, and edited, and the words still don’t sound right? Giving your writing a day or two of rest helps drive out irritation.

2. Incubation increases observation and interpretation. After setting your writing aside for a while, you are more likely to view it through the eyes of a reader instead of a writer or editor. It gives new perspective to your writing voice.

3.  Fresh ideas hatch when a project incubates. Resting your writing  makes room in your head for ideas to form. You might discover a new motivation for your main character or solve a puzzling plot problem.

4.  Errors become obvious after some incubation.  You’ve said it— I know you have— “Why didn’t I catch that?” When a writer rushes toward a deadline, errors happen. Building in some rest time makes errors seem to leap off the page.

5.  Incubation allows you to rebuild your strength. Writing without rest is like an athlete training too long and too hard. Sports medicine has a name for it, Overtraining Syndrome. Some of its symptoms are a washed-out feeling, tiredness, lack of energy, a sudden drop in performance, moodiness, irritability, depression, and loss of enthusiasm. Resting your writing for a scheduled amount of time is like a cold drink on a hot day and a long, refreshing nap.

Remember—schedule your incubation time. Without scheduling, you risk forgetting to allow your writing to rest, or worse setting aside your project forever.

Do you build incubation time into your writing schedule?

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Filed under Deadlines, Stress, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing Tips

5 Stress-Free Tips for Meeting Tight Deadlines

Have you thought about all the different jobs a writer does? Robert Brewer, over at My Name Is Not Bob, made a list:

  • writer,
  • editor,
  • copywriter,
  • file clerk,
  • negotiator,
  • accountant,
  • marketer,
  • speaker.

No wonder writers stress out over deadlines!

Deadlines don’t have to be so stressful, though, if you know how to handle them. Here are five essential tips.

1. Learn to say no. Overcommitting is the main reason why writers miss deadlines. A writer’s focus should be on quality and not quantity. Ask yourself realistically how much can you handle and still do it well and on time.

2. Communicate clearly. At the start of a project, find out exactly what your client expects from you, both in content and in deadlines. Ask questions. Find out who your “go to” people are and the best way to get in touch with them when you need quick answers. I’ve seen writers lose days, even weeks, of precious time when an unanswered question sent them writing in the wrong direction.

3. Implement a “goals vs. deadlines” mindset. Deadlines become much less stressful when you break them into smaller manageable goals. Before you start a project, make time to create a project schedule. Set a realistically attainable goal for each day, and don’t forget to build in time for revisions. Then stick to your schedule.

4. Focus on one goal at a time. Your schedule has created for you a list of the tasks needed to complete your project. The great thing about this is that it frees your brain from worrying about meeting your project’s deadline. Instead of racing toward the finish line, now you can focus on just one goal at a time. Do that. If possible, put tomorrow’s goal out of your head while you work on today’s.

5. Keep in touch. I’ve found that clients like progress reports, especially early in a project. I send a progress report every Friday, or at least every other Friday. Find out if your client will appreciate you submitting your work in pieces. Often, sending a few chapters at a time allows writers and editors to work out glitches before they become knotty problems.

Did I miss anything? How do you lighten deadline stress? Share your thoughts below.

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Filed under Deadlines, Stress