Chirp and Chatter Pages

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Self-Imposed Deadlines (Leeann Betts)

(A Writing Tips Post)

There is something intimidating about deadlines. When you first sign that contract or make that agreement to have your book in your publisher’s hands six months from now, that seems like a long time. Sure, you can take a week off and celebrate. And another week to do some research. Then one of the kids gets the mumps. And another.

And before you know it, it’s April 2nd and your book is due April 25th.
What do you do? Panic!

But what about if you’re not under an official contract? You don’t have a publisher breathing down your neck, waiting for your book. You have all the time in the world, right?

No. You don’t.

If you are a writer, then you must write. And if you’re a writer, you must be writing for someone other than yourself. At the very least, as a Christian writer, you are writing for God. And even if He is the only One who ever sees what you’re writing, He has an expectation that at some point, you’ll be ready to move on to the next project.

Failing to set a finish date sets you up to fail.

So even if you’re not under someone else’s deadline, you should be under one of your own.
How can you stick to that date?
  • Make up some business cards with the cover on it and the release date.
  • Tell other people.
  • Spread the news on social media.
  • Write it on a calendar in ink.
  • Keep a picture of the cover in front of you with the release date written on it.
  • Schedule time to accomplish the work by the date you say.
What happens when life gets in the way?

You might need to put aside something else in your life so you can meet your personal deadline. That’s right.
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes later.
  • Skip your lunch hour and write.
  • Skip television one or two or three nights a week.
  • Take your laptop when you go to an appointment and work while you’re waiting.
  • Tell your family what your goal is, and ask them to help you meet that goal
Self-Imposed deadlines might not be about finishing a book. Maybe you’ve spent way too much time on research but you can’t tear yourself away. So set a deadline. Two more days and then you’re done. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you get done in the next two days.

Maybe you’re spending too much time re-writing. Face it—ten years is too long. One year is probably too long. Repeat after me: It will never be perfect.

And that’s because you are learning as you go. You will continue to learn. You want to put out the best product possible, but not getting the book done isn’t going to help anybody. Let it go. Or pay someone else to re-write for you.

What kinds of deadlines do you give yourself?


Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, released in the fall of 2015 Book 3,Unbalanced, released in January. Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is due in April, with more planned for later dates. If you like accountants or are an accountant, check out Counting the Days: a 31-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing,Nuggets of Writing Gold, and Donna has published a book of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. You can follow Leeann and Donna All books are available at in digital and print, and at in digital.

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