1. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Deadlines

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Annûniel, Aug 14, 2010.

    I hope this isn't an overdone topic, but if it is, I apologize!

    I was curious if the use of deadlines has helped you with your writing or if it has actually caused harm by wearing you out?

    On one hand, I feel like imposing my own deadlines on certain aspects of my book would help me get past this slump I seem to be in. Even if what I am writing isn't what I feel is my best to meet my deadline, at least I will have something to work with and it will keep my creative mind active on my book.

    On the other hand, I worry that imposing deadlines will cause me to burn out creatively and I might end up worse than I am right now. I have been working on this book for quite some years now and don't want to delay the progress of it any further.

    So I am asking what, if any, experiences you have with setting deadlines for yourself. Did it help or hinder?
     
  2. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    The only time that I set a deadline for myself when it comes to writing, is when I have a school term paper or assignment that is due. If I'm writing for pleasure than I don't set a deadline simply because I feel like it will pressure me and my writing won't be as good because when I'm writing I like to visualize what is happening (it looks like a movie in my head) and then I write what I picture and sometimes it can take awhile for me to get everything perfect. I do make outlines for chapters though that way I don't drift off-topic and so I can keep the sequence of events in order.
     
  3. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Deadlines definitely have a dramatic impact on the things I do (not necessarily writing), usually for the better. I've always had a big motivation problem. If I don't have some sort of time limit, I keep putting things off, thinking there's still plenty of time. Telling me I have a week to finish chapter five will all but guarantee that I'm well on my way into chapter six before the week is halfway done. Having to finish something in a set amount of time forces me to focus, which brings me to my other big problem--I'm easily distracted.

    Unfortunately, I can't just set my own deadlines and have it work out like that. I can't just say "Finish chapter five in a week or you'll feel really bad about yourself!" and expect good results. I need to have an actual penalty for not meeting the deadline. Otherwise, my brain realizes that I'm trying to trick myself, and it can't have that.

    So yes, having a deadline works wonders for my writing nine times out of ten.The only problem is actually finding a real deadline to loom over me. They're very elusive creatures. And I can't really say it has any negative impact on the quality of my writing. I always seem to work best under pressure, but that's just me.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have rough ones like by the end of June I wanted to have finished my first draft. By end of October I want to have my first draft of second book done and query letters etc out for the first one.

    I am flexible though if its not ready, its not ready will set a new deadline
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Deadlines are wonderful. I love the whistling, rushing noise as they fly past.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I used to hate deadlines, but now I prefer them. It gives me an incentive to finish whatever it is I'm working on. Besides, a lot of magazines only have certain dates when you can submit. If you miss the deadline, you might have to wait another few months.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    If it's for a term paper or something, they stimulate me and get me going.

    If it's me setting my own deadline for a personal writing project? Pssh there's no way I'd stick to that....
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You don't say what kind of slump you're in, but my guess is that if you are having difficulty moving forward with something, imposing an artificial deadline is not going to help. If you are having a problem making something work in your writing, additional pressure isn't going to resolve it, and in fact it will probably just frustrate you.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think deadlines are very helpful if kept reasonable. If I don't have some sort of deadline, I tend to slack. Almost always, I think I never finished a story I wrote without any deadline in mind.

    Now obviously, don't force yourself to churn out a novel in a day or even a week's time. You don't want some ridiculous guideline you have no hope of keeping with a reasonable writing pace. But don't just say, "I'll write it and finish it whenever."

    And if you can't make your original deadline, it isn't the end of the world. You can extend it a bit, but just try to keep the number of extensions limited to just one or two, lest they become meaningless.
     
  10. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I write to deadlines a lot, really. I genuinely write stories aimed at specific anthologies, so have to make sure the story is done in time. It's not really that difficult, but there have been a number of times I've only just made it. It's all about making sure you have enough time, and being willing to put in the necessary work.
     
  11. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    I prefer deadlines, but I'm very goal-oriented and like to stay organized since that keeps me on task. I have found they bring out my creativity and work ethic instead of hurting them.
    If they work for you, use them. And if you want to be a professional fiction writer, you might at least have to learn how to cope with deadlines, so it can't hurt to try out different methods and practice now :)
     
  12. Phlogiston
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    Phlogiston Member

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    Go on, hands up. How many people read this today?

    If not, I'd recommend it. CB is ace (even if this piece is just a bit of filler).

    And in response to the OP - I need deadlines. Can't work without 'em.
     
  13. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I definitely need deadlines. However, I need actual real ones rather than just ones I set myself otherwise I just keep putting it off thinking I have plenty of time. I also get easily distracted, so even if I'm really into writing something I usually end up abandoning it for some reason. I think deadlines help in driving me to actually write it, and I usually write better under pressure, knowing I have to get it done. And even if the quality isn't the greatest, at least I've written something and can edit it.

    I haven't seen that article - I'm about to read it, Phlogiston.
     
  14. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    I agree with this. I set deadlines for myself because, as I just posted in another thread, I find time management is my main issue. Between two kids, work and housework etc, it doesn't leave much time for writing.

    I need to set deadlines for myself so I'll stop saying 'I'll just hand out a load of washing' or 'I'll just cook dinner' etc. It means I have to include writing as part of my daily routine.

    My deadlines usually refer to number of words per week, because like you my project has been going for some years. How do you set your deadlines?
     
  15. Annûniel
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    Annûniel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose I should specify that I doubt I'll hold to a deadline like, "Will have chapter 5 done in two weeks," because I haven't been writing in chronological order as of late. I was thinking more along the lines of "Finish drawing X map by the end of the week" or "complete X blurb that's been on my mind by the end of the week."

    I'm just a bad procrastinator, and as I've been setting personal deadlines for school work that have been helping me get through the semester, maybe it would work for my writing as well.
     
  16. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I have set myself a deadline to finish the first draft of the novel I'm currently writing - it's 6th September, and I've only got 13,000 words done of at least 85,000.

    Yes, that works out at 8,000 a day for the next 9 days! I've written that much in a day before but whether I can keep it going for that long I'm not sure. I've got the narrative sorted, so it's just a case of getting the words down.

    It was ok when I started this several weeks ago - my target was only 3,500 words a day, but now I've wasted so much time fiddling around with the beginning and generally wasting time (mostly playing Minesweeper - damn that game!) that I've lost so many days.

    I would drop the deadline, as it's bound to have a negative effect on my work, but I'm off on holiday ('vacation', for you yanks in the audience) and after that I need to get cracking with my studies. And I really wanted to get this one finished before then (at least a rough first draft) :-(
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doing NaNoWriMo made me really twitchy about deadlines for personal projects. I don't tend toward doing them anyway, 'cause I have the similar lack of attention span/free time to seemingly most people who've replied. I guess Stubeard's got his own personal NaNoWriMo on crack hell going on there, what with the 4 times the recommended daily word count for NaNo. :p Heh. Anyways... What was I saying before... ooh shiny!

    Point is, if you're having a struggle writing, you might want to look at why it's such an issue for you in the first place. If it's genuinely just a lack of fear that deadlines will fix, then go for it. But if there's some other reluctance, like a fear of your own plot or a hesitance over doing this that or the other to your characters, then you might want to make sure you're really sure you're going the right way.

    I usually have about 3-6 novels running at once, and I periodically drop and pick up stories when I hit sticking blocks with them, and it's ALWAYS because I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing with the plot, and something's making me anxious that I've ruined it. If you've been writing thousands and thousands of words reluctantly, but struggling on (your first post kinda made it sound like that to me), then maybe you should sit down and wonder good and hard about the story itself before you set yourself deadlines to churn out loads more of something you're not totally confident about. That feeling can so easily be fixed by a moment of epiphany that might not even warrant a re-write of earlier stuff, but only put it in a better context, so you feel comfortable continuing.

    Eh, maybe out of place advice, but writing shouldn't be something one procrastinates over - it should be the fun thing you do to procrastinate over everything else, or it's just going to turn into a job or something. Urgh. :p
     
  18. Tomspy77
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    Tomspy77 New Member

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    That was Douglas Adams was it not?


    I did not read a lot of this thread, but I find I press turning in my work till the last minute, then write it in a flurry of activity and let it sit idle for a day or so, then come back and edit it after I can look at it afresh.

    I think this may later prove to be a bad habit, but as far as the limited amount of writing I've done so far that was published, it has not hurt the quality as much as you might think.
     
  19. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    2000 words in 2 hours! Woohoo! And that included much Minesweeper and bits of research!

    Am off to Mass now but then begins again the great "personal NaNoWriMo on crack hell".

    Once I get the basic draft written I'll be able to look back over it later. What's the odds I end up chucking the whole thing away because it's so rubbish?? :p
     
  20. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nooo, never chuck away. Re-reading old drafts a few months later like minesweeper - a load of blank, disappointing squares and then occasionally you click on one that explodes, but in this case it's a good explosion. A write-y explosion! :p

    What you're doing now couldn't be better. :D A potential finished draft, lots of words, so much to go on later. :)
     
  21. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know I am unusual but I prefer chucking away lol I deleted around 30,000 words two weeks ago. I like being uncluttered and coming up with new ideas. My novel gets better everytime I chuck huge chunks of it away. I didn't even look at the first draft when I wrote the second draft and about five drafts in only two scenes remain in tact, one was just so inspired the first time round I have edited it but never really bettered the interaction.

    Seriously though expect your first draft to be rubbish, mine are terrible I see them as the rough stone to carve the real story out of. I don't concern myself with anything except writing a full story, grammar, tense, timeline etc are just out the window. Done like that and 9,000 words in a day is easily doable if you have no major distractions, and you know the story. Says she who has about 1000 words left to write of her novel and has been staring at the screen for 12 hours:) It;s finally coming
     
  22. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooh, good luck with the end of it. :) Thinking of deadlines... Done by the end of today! Go! Or there will be shame! And no cake for you. :p

    I don't often refer back to my drafts, but I like keeping them reasonably intact so I can if I need to. I often wander pretty far from them, but reading back what I wrote four or five years ago can make me realise where I'm going wrong now, or remember the importance of a plot element that was almost drowned out while I was experimenting with something else. If I delete I feel like I'm betraying myself, since I did think what I was doing was the right thing at the time or I wouldn't have done it. Doubt and changing things in later drafts is fine, but deleting it just makes me feel wrong. :p

    'Sides, files are so small and cheap datasticks so vast I can cram my whole life works onto a 2GB stick and still have room for a few computer games and a couple of albums worth of music. :p
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL I know but there is something so satysfying about deleting it lol its the zen bit of me that says lets only look forward. Have been lucky with my instincts have always kept the bit that I do want to go back and get:) I am sure the day will come with the way I do it when I will find my deep and abiding regret but have only been writing since last February so haven't had time for that to happen yet.

    Yep I want to be finished writing and onto final editing and tidying up this week.
     
  24. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    (I haven't had a chance to look through all the posts so please ignore if this has already been said).

    Personally I think deadlines are essential. As you gain more and more experience with writing then you will be able to judge your writing speed and you will impose personal deadlines for completion of work.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I think a publisher would expect a 140,000 word novel to be completed in 3 months. Over a 5 day week you would have to do 2,000 words per day. From a personal perspective I would impose a 7,000 word a day limit to make sure that I have plenty of time to revise it.

    I've set this limit for myself and I am currently progressing through quite a lot of personal projects. I don't think that the quality of this work has diminished in anyway.
     
  25. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Well I only managed 5,200 words today, rather than the 8,000 I had targetted, but then again I was only working on it for 6 hours spread out through the day, only just finishing now (at 10.30pm). And that did include some revision, and the discarding of about 1000 words. So if I get a full days work done tomorrow (which I should do because I won't have many distractions or other things to do, I should get the 8,000 words done, plus making up for some of today. Here's hoping :)

    Must go to bed now though. I could stay up til I got the 8,000 done but I'd only be more tired tomorrow. And the other side of the coin of self-discipline is knowing when to stop! So goodnight all.
     

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