There’s Nothing Like a Deadline

I finished this little guy the night before Easter--despite putting him on the needles last November.

With novel-writing, my only deadline is to polish a few pages for my monthly critique group. I work on my manuscript every day, but sometimes I wish I had a firm deadline so I could measure myself against it. Am I making enough progress? How has today’s work pushed me closer to my goal?

As a journalist, I’m wired to thrive on due-by dates. Take the case of this flopsy bunny, from Susan B. Anderson’s Itty Bitty Toys pattern book. I started the project for my 3-year-old way back in November during a beach knitting retreat. As soon as I got home, back into a bag the bunny body went. The bag landed in the corner of the knitting room. (Ahem. I mean the guest room.)

Then Easter sneaked up.

I’ve been staying up late the past few nights knitting and stitching limbs and ears onto the body. I’ve made two trips to craft stores (for embroidery floss and again when my favorite tapestry needle broke in half). But now, thanks to the deadline, it’s done!

And maybe I’ll employ this strategy with my novel. It might get me past a stuck spot, or give me the courage to sit down and write the first draft of a hard scene. Then again, maybe not. I rushed some of my bunny stitching. One of the ears puckers. And truth be told, it still needs its fluffy tail. Oh well. My daughter will love her new friend, and that’s what counts.

Happy Easter! And for the writers out there, do you set deadlines for yourself? Do they work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Fiction, Knitting, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to There’s Nothing Like a Deadline

  1. rowena says:

    Deadlines are essential – but promises I make only to myself don’t always work, there has to be something or someone else involved. So like your Easter deadline, and your journalism training, I try to set up someone, whose disapproval I don’t want to incur, with expectations of me by a particular date, and then my pride won’t let me miss the deadline.
    Love the bunny!

    • I love the idea of being accountable to someone else when deadline-setting. Maybe I’ll try that this month, because I’m totally stalling out on a scene right now. Thanks for stopping by, Rowena!

  2. Emerald Barnes says:

    Most of the time I don’t set a deadline for my writing, but I wish I could be stricter on myself and do it. I did set a deadline for when my novella would be finished and put on Amazon Kindle. It worked out pretty good for that. But just as Rowena says, it’s hard to make promises to myself and stick to it. I need more motivation for it.

    • That’s the kind of big-size deadline I set for myself occasionally–like the plan to have a big chunk of my novel ready for my critique group in September. I don’t feel pressure yet, but at some point this summer I’ll go back to the beginning and revise what I have with that goal in mind. How did the whole Kindle experience go? I’d be curious to hear how you liked it, and I’d assume that deadline-setting would have prepared you mentally for that plunge, knowing when the “go” date would be and figuring out how to publicize in advance and afterwards.

      • Emerald Barnes says:

        The Kindle experience went well actually. I’m still not selling as much as I’d like, but I’m getting there. I started a fan page on Facebook, and although, I don’t have many fans yet, I’m getting my name and the word out there. I liked publishing with Kindle so much I’m working on a series I plan on putting out there as well unless I decide later that I want to try and find an agent or publisher. But, with Kindle, they make it pretty easy actually, and I got to set the price. I tried to make it as inexpensive as I could, so it’s only $.99. It is just a novella though. The royalties aren’t great, but the money wasn’t why I did it this time. I just wanted to get my name and work out there and to prove that I’m serious about writing and publishing my work. As far as marketing and publicizing my book, I made a youtube video for a preview for it, and I have some awesome friends who are helping me spread the word about my book. I even added a page on my blog about it. I’m not great with marketing though, so I know I could do better. And before the publish date, I did put out a small preview on my blog and facebook fan page. That grabbed some people’s attention.

  3. Even if I set myself a deadline, I doubt I’d adhere to it because I have no authority over myself. I do better with daily word counts. I successfully completed Nanowrimo two years ago, after that experience I set myself a daily word count goal of 600 words a day and that’s how I finished my novel’s first draft. Now as for editing it– I’ve been extremely lazy, so maybe a deadline or something like that would help.

    • Daily word counts–very cool. I have never tried that technique, but I know a lot of writers swear by it. If you figure out a way to use the word-count method with editing, let me know! I’d be curious to hear how that works for you. I plan to start editing the first half of my manuscript this summer, so I can submit it to my critique group this fall, and I’ll be looking for strategies to keep my editing balanced with plowing forward on the next chunk. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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