4 Tricks to Make & Meet Deadlines

DeadlineCalendarWorking in TV again has reminded me that I write well under the pressure of a deadline. Deadlines force me to stop procrastinating. Deadlines make me write faster. Deadlines keep me off the internet!

But what if you have no real deadlines? When story editors, producers and broadcasters are all expecting a script from me on a certain day, I must finish that script or else I’ll let everybody down, screw up the production schedule, and possibly get fired. Yet when writing my novel the only person (so far) expecting anything from me is me, so it’s easy to ignore or miss deadlines when the only real consequence is my own disappointment. To counteract this, I’ve come up with 4 Deadline Tricks to motivate even the most lax writers into getting stuff done.

  • Punch the Clock. I use this one because I’ve never written a novel before and am not sure how long it should take, so in the beginning stages I don’t set tasks to complete, but rather distraction-free hours to write.
  • Start Small. If your only deadline is “finish novel in six months”, that will be overwhelming. Instead, give yourself small tasks to complete, such as writing a certain number of scenes/words, or finishing character sketches.
  • Get a Critique Partner. When someone else expects something from you, you’re more likely to do it. Plus, when that person is sending you their writing, well, you can’t let them show you up!
  • Pay Yourself. This is a trick a screenwriter friend shared with me… set aside a chunk of money, give it to a trusted friend, and when you finish a stage of writing (beat sheet, outline, chapters, etc.), that friend gives the money back. So if you need that cash, get writing!

Those are a few strategies to help you finish writing your script, novel, play, whatever. If you have any more, please share. Right now I have to get back to work. My 1st Draft is due Wednesday…

Next Up from Heather… What gymnastics taught me about writing.

 

Author: Heather Jackson

Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW

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