I've been writing to deadlines pretty much since I began writing. Mainly because it was a 'fun' way to satisfy my former project manager brain with little boxes to check off. The more boxes I had checked, the more it looked like I had tangible evidence of accomplishing something.

Somewhere along the way though, that anal retentive part of my brain couldn't just look at deadlines as fun and markers to accomplishment. Writing to deadlines became mandatory for my own sense of accomplishment. I picked a date, said I'd have XYZ done, and busted tail to get that done.

Then, as I began to have published works available and started looking toward the next release, deadlines became mandatory. The more titles I sold, the more mandatory that practice became.

For instance, let me give you a peek at my life since late March:

I had one Contemporary novella to finish, two paranormal novellas to compose from ground zero including plotting the series, line edits on Immortal Hope, edits on both Misunderstanding Mason and A Broken Christmas, various tasks related to book blurbs and cover input, and as Tori St. Claire, I had to finish revisions on Stripped and in 6 days must have the proposal for the second Berkley Heat book turned in.

That's not counting obligations I have to other jobs, or my family, or my farm.

Without strict adhearance to deadlines, none of this would have been finished on time. My agent would have been furious, my editors would have been beating on my doors, and that doesn't even touch the level of self-disgust I would have felt at failing to follow-through.

The last two weeks I've really felt that crunch for the first time, and it's been in a good way. I like the feeling of truly having a job. Frankly, it's great fun to finish, mark off the Gantt list item, and move on to the next. But in between all this I had the following issues to mitigate:

a. Eldest child broke his arm
b. Taxes had to be finished to fullfill another obligation
c. Weather changes backed up all my daily farm chores
d. Dog got hit by a car
e. Incredible idea blindsided me and refused to let go, requiring three days of sifting through it until I could pen it all down for later use

Folks, if I didn't have deadlines penned down, and I didn't adapt my approach to writing early on so that those self-imposed deadlines were critical, I'd have never survived the last two and a half months.

Now, after everything has dwindled to a dull whirr, I find myself *ahead* of my deadline schedule. Not by much, but ahead all the same. All that's left is to finish up that proposal -- which is a discussion I'll have on Thursday, on Tori's blog.

So -- if you're starting out, start setting deadlines early on. Approach everything like you're writing with an editor who's knocking on your door and waiting for the project. Teach yourself (and those around you) how to make deadlines come together. (And if you've got a family, get them accustomed to frozen dinners at deadline time early! Not to mention delayed housecleaning and an extra addition of chores.)

Above all, develop the work ethic. That's the best advice I can give you.



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