Thursday, September 17, 2015

The problem with self-imposed deadlines is they're self-imposed

I think the headline of this blog post says it all, don't you?

If you don't know me, then you wouldn't know I am a procrastinator. When I was a kid, my mom used to plunk my butt down in a chair to work on a book report for a book I hadn't read -- that was due the next day.

Well, now I'm an adult who indie publishes and it's like I'm nine years old again, sitting at the dining room table at 7pm, overwhelmed, cranky and trying to skim a paperback novel in order to write a cohesive summary. Except, that I'm the author of the book and it's not finished yet (Is this metaphor working? I can't tell).

Anyhoo, I gave myself a deadline of July 1st and guess what? Mama's not done. It's the middle of September and my mystery novel is still being drafted. I was so confident that I would meet my self-imposed deadline this summer that I contracted my cover art early (although, that was smart thinking) and put a deposit down on my editor. Meanwhile, I have several more scenes to write, edits to make, beta readers to hit up, and revisions to tackle before the editor even sees the damn thing. When I look at a calendar, I don't see time leisurely spread out before me. I see minutes and days ticking away and I'm still not finished.

See that deadline, Kim? *whoosh* You missed it.

Indie authors need to be disciplined. There is no big publisher breathing down our necks to finish our work. No agent to whip us into shape. If we don't write and publish, we don't make money. There are lessons to be learned here and I am learning them.
1. Set a reasonable goal. With a toddler at home, it's not easy for me to always hit those daily word counts. So aim for 1k words a day. Totally manageable.

2. Have a detailed story plan. The reason I'm struggling now is because I veered from my outline and changed the plot. A detailed outline is my best friend and makes for quick drafts. I need the outline finalized before I venture on.

3. Remove distractions. Translation: Get off the freakin' internet. Specifically: Facebook.

4. Carve out time. I sit down to write when my daughter is napping. It's sacred time. I do nothing else. No laundry. No dishes. No phone calls. I just write.

5. Hold myself accountable. Or have my husband use guilt as a way to hurry things along. "The longer it takes you to finish your book, the longer it takes to earn money for the family." Well played, dear.

So there ya have it. My next book will go a lot smoother -- hopefully.

How do you stay focused on your writing projects? Do you hit your deadlines?



Unknown said...

Kim, you have such an honest, clear writing voice. This advice is all so true. Don't beat yourself up too bad, though-- you're only human and stuff happens. We can't be too busy writing that we prioritize it above living, you know? Anyway, best of luck with your draft (I'm in the middle of drafting too right and now, and it is the ultimate struggle to just sit down and WRITE) -- YOU SO GOT THIS!! =)

Jonathan Schramm said...

I find setting a routine sooooo important. If I don't start writing right at 8pm and go to however long it takes me to get to 1,000 words then I'm done for. The problem is, when you've got a little one at home, usually it's finally in bed by 8pm and all you want to do is crash.

I agree with Anne, don't be hard on yourself. At least you're still writing!

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Thanks, Anne Marie! For your compliment and for letting me off the hook. I appreciate it.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I used to write at night, but lately, my brain is mush. And I just want to drink whine and play on the internet. I have to get back to writing at night to finish my draft. Well, at least I can still drink wine.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

*ahem, wine.

Carrie Beckort said...

I need to give myself more deadlines. Mostly it's just that I can't shut the stories off in my head, so I need to write because I'm not really the type who can write more than one book at a time! The critique group I joined does help a bit. If we want something reviewed for the month then it has to be uploaded by the second Thursday. That has helped me a few times. But I agree - getting off the Internet (and putting my phone -- and Kindle -- in the other room) is a huge help when I just can't get focused.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I am way more distracted as an adult than I ever was a child.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
- Douglas Adams

Mary Fan said...

Self-imposed deadlines are the only way I ever get anything done! I usually find that announcing them on Twitter, even if no one responds, helps keep me accountable. Dunno why but as soon as I've said it publicly, I feel like I have to follow through...

Brenda St John Brown said...

Self-imposed deadlines are hard and Facebook is a terrible time suck. I'm currently in crunch mode for the self-imposed deadline I set and even with this looming, I *still* find ways to procrastinate!

Debra Renée Byrd said...

I was that kid as well. I think my mom thought I wouldn't make it. lol I try not to impose deadlines on myself, because I never meet them.

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