I Love a Deadline

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

—Douglas Adams

Deadlines are meant to induce stress. I know none of us wants more stress in our lives (do you?), but most writers I know struggle with two things: discipline and focus. A reasonable deadline helps with both.

A little bit of stress focuses me on completing a task. A definite deadline can keep your bottom in the chair and your fingers on the keys much better than “inspiration,” that fickle muse, ever could.

How do you set valid deadlines, so they don’t just whoosh by as they did for Douglas Adams?

As I have found by completing more of my first draft in a month and a half than the previous year, you fix a penalty for not achieving a word count. I do dislike word counts as they become a target and I am an underwriter, so I usually fall short of any desired word count and add fluff words just to pan things out and use words.

Having put all that into consideration, I would recomend that you set up deadlines and don’t make a self-reminder or self-incrimination act to reprimand yourself for missing it. What you need is someone else to carry out the forfeit. Money is usually the best way to do this. Give someone £100 and have weekly deadlines, say Fridays so that you submit work every Friday and if you miss more than two Fridays they get to keep the £100.

It works fine for myself.

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