Meeting That Deadline

For some reason, the last week of June is jam-packed with deadlines for me. Various indie publishers are hosting contests or extremely brief windows of submission opportunity and I’m preparing fancy cover letters for Rooted in the Sky like crazy; a few months ago I decided to submit something to a Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul anthology (of course, the one about writing advice) and I keep rewriting it, unhappy, as the June 30th deadline looms closer; also, I’ve been holding out on telling you all, but I was approached by Ploughshares several months ago to write a guest blog post for their Literary Boroughs series and after many visits to Philadelphia and several long hours of compiling all the information into lovely sentences, I finally turned it in yesterday (I’m really excited to share this post with you. It goes up July 4th!). On top of all that, I have a bundle of  self-imposed deadlines to finish other projects (namely the Byberry book).

In general, deadlines work for me. I’ve only missed a deadline once in my entire life, but I knew the deadline wasn’t practical, because the project had swelled in scope, nearly a month ahead of time and thus managed to garner a reluctant extension from my professor.

Deadlines help me gauge how much I need to get done each day or each week. I divide the project up into segments so that I’m constantly on schedule (or, at least, have time built in for an all-nighter so I can catch up and be on schedule eventually).

How about you? Do you work well with deadlines? Do they have to be “real” deadlines set by editors and publishers, or will you obey deadlines that you set for yourself?

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10 thoughts on “Meeting That Deadline

  1. Not only do I like deadlines, I want to know the exact slant and word count that are expected. That knowledge allows me to focus so much more on what is desired by the editor, and it enables me to meet the deadlines.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Bruce

    • I love when calls for submissions/contests give really specific guidelines like that. It helps me figure out the frame of the story (the scope of the story is heavily dependent on word count, for example). Also, it’s hard to know when a story is “done”; those extra guidelines/deadlines help me determine that, which is often a relief!

  2. I don’t know whether I like deadlines or not. Sometimes, I just need to write and let something shape itself, so I like having blank assignments witohut deadlines. But deadlines can force a focus and keep me going, so I set them for myself or organize around them.

    • I don’t think I would like deadlines all the time. I like having a few deadlines a year–to make sure I actually write stuff and submit stuff–but it would be so exhausting and, I think, detrimental to my writing if I always had deadlines. I definitely agree that some projects need to take their own sweet time in coming to life. I can’t imagine writing a good book on a deadline! I’m so impressed by writers who are contracted to write a series and have to produce top quality sequels in such a short span of time. I’m not sure I could do that!

  3. I used to work as a reporter for a newspaper. As far as I know, there is no better place to acquire a near-religious respect for deadlines.

    These days I am a quarterly magazine editor — and I create the production schedule. While I am loyal to the deadlines I set (I gotta set an example, after all), I’m pretty flexible with my freelancers. Because, hey, things happen. I build extra time into my schedule so if they get overwhelmed (or merely flake out) I’m not in trouble and neither are they.

    Mike
    http://www.mikeallegra.com

    • I’ve heard really good things about writing for a newspaper. Jennifer Weiner insists that she has never experienced writer’s block in her life because, having been a journalist for such a long time, she never had the luxury. What a great work ethic it must instill!

      Your method sounds like a great, organized, practical managing method. I’m sure your freelancers are a pretty happy team! It’s so stressful when someone misses their deadline and it affects you down the line.

  4. Not so good at obeying or setting self imposed deadlines. Probably needs to be an area I work on. I tend to work on different projects as the notion strikes me. Good at meeting deadlines set by others though.

    • Self imposed deadlines are so easy to forgive, at least in my case, so I totally understand your plight! It’s good to have a few contests and calls for submissions that give a kick in the pants every once in a while. I comb NewPages and Duotrope when I’m a little low on my productivity and submissions to get myself going again. It’s sort of a self-imposed list of outside deadlines!

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