When you are published through a publisher, you are given deadlines in order to get your book out in a reasonable time frame. You have initial submission deadlines, editing deadlines, revision deadlines and final copy proof deadlines. What if you are self-published? Do you have the same deadlines? Only if you impose them on yourself and probably the deadlines you put on yourself will be quicker than the publisher's deadlines. After all, you want to publish as many books as you can within the calendar year.

When you put deadlines on yourself, sometimes it is harder to stick to them. This is probably true in that you don't feel as pressured if you miss a deadline. You just re-evaluate and say something on the lines of "Okay, I'll just shoot to have that book published by such-and-such date or written or ..." whatever it is you are needing to accomplish at that time.

This writer has set several deadlines for herself and yet hasn't met a good many of them. I'm struggling to really stay on task and keep interest in my writing projects. I don't know if it is just life in general, I've written one novel and am basically satisfied with that, or what, but I need a serious kick in the pants. I need to get back on track as I have several state books in my JGDS series to write; I've got some short stories to put out and have this new novel I thought would be interesting, although after realizing how much research is needed the novel may not be a pressing matter. Four months ago when I stumbled upon the interactive creative writing prompt site, I was inspired by several of the pictures on the site that I wrote out three pages without a problem. Then I had to think about who my characters really are, what their ties to China were, and why they had originally gone to China for a vacation in a time when the US-Chinese relations were not at their best.

I thought when I first started that I could probably write the story and then go back and do all the research and what not but because my story is dated, I found it hard to really write much after the first three pages. I've written a couple of scenes and a prologue, which will probably disappear once the story is completed, but at the time, it was necessary to write it to hopefully lead me in the right direction.

I had set a deadline to have the story written and revised by November so that I could hopefully publish it the first part of 2013. Will I meet this deadline? Probably not. I've got a lot going on and haven't written anything on the story since March.

I also set a deadline to put three more state stories out this year, but again, I've not even written them so I'll have to take the bull by the horns and immerse myself in the writing of the stories. Not meeting deadlines only confirms that I am not disciplined enough to work for myself.

So what is the solution?
- Write everything down on a calendar or some place visible so you are reminded every day.
- Keep a daily to-do list. Cross things off once they are accomplished.
- Start small and don't try to do everything at once.
- Limit your bigger projects to one a week or every couple of weeks or whatever time it takes you to complete the task at hand.
- Break said bigger projects into smaller ones so you do feel like you are acomplishing something.
- Do everything you can to meet your deadlines. If you have a setback, try to regroup and work that much harder to make the next imposed deadline.
- Set your priorities.

What are you doing to keep your self-imposed deadlines?

Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series. Her stories "Train of Clues", "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests). Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review. Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet. When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her writing.

For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog or the JGDS website

For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog or her website


Heidiwriter said...

Self-discipline is the bane of a writer's existence! I seem to produce best under a deadline. One thing that helps me is that I belong to two weekly critique groups and I know I need to bring pages each week, otherwise, I may never get my project done!

Karen Cioffi said...

Ah, good old self-discipline. I'm usually pretty good about self-discipline, but I do get distracted and have to be brought back in.

Like Heidi, I work well with deadlines. It helps keep me focused.

Elysabeth, we all hit those times when we can't seem to get motivated. But, you seem to have a great list of 'what to do' to help get over it.

I usually just force myself to do what I must and sooner or later I'm back on track.

It can get tiresome, continually working. I only watch TV at night when I go to bed. And, that's just to unwind.

Magdalena Ball said...

I agree Elisabeth - self-imposed deadlines don't always get priority over externally imposed ones. Sometimes too, we set unrealistic schedules or ask ourselves to do things (like finish a novel) before we're ready (some big creative work takes fermentation). All of your suggestions are good ones - scheduling, using lists, etc. Joining a writing group or using a partner can always help, because you're making those deadlines external, and therefore making yourself accountable to someone else. When I'm really ready to finish a novel (I know I've let it sit long enough), I'll find an ideal reader (maybe someone at a similar stage of their work that I can partner with) and we'll agree a schedule of reading and critiquing between us. That helps keep me accountable, because I know that I've got someone else waiting for me.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great solutions for meeting your self-imposed deadlines. I use the "notes" function on my computer and I phone to daily see my lists.

elysabeth said...

Thanks, ladies. Great other suggestions, especially using a fellow writer/critiquer to keep us on our deadlines (as Maggie said, make it an external thing as opposed to internal). I had a revelation yesterday about Imogene yesterday when I was talking to someone at my event. I think the next few months are going to be research time and then I'm going to participate in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and strive to write the novel during the month and go from there.

See you all in the postings - E :)

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