Setting Realistic Writing Deadlines

By on February 7, 2018
Setting Realistic Writing Deadlines - Writer's

Creating deadlines for yourself is one of the most important and productive things you can do as a writer. Without them, it is all too easy to keep putting your writing tasks on the back burner and never getting anything done.

Without deadlines, our goals and aspirations can fade away and the more we leave our writing tasks for another day, the further away and more unachievable those dreams become.

On the other hand, setting writing deadlines that are unrealistic and unachievable can also damage your writing career. If you continuously miss those deadlines, no matter how hard you try, you’ll inevitably feel like you’re a failure and will undoubtedly begin to beat yourself up about it, which will damage your confidence and potentially slow your writing productivity down even more.

So what can you do to set realistic deadlines that push yourself, but not too much!

Do the math

Start from your end goal and work backwards to see if it makes sense. If you want to have written your book by the end of the year, then think about everything you need to do to achieve that, work out the time you have and figure out whether this is realistic or not. If it isn't don’t feel bad about shifting the goal posts back a little. It’s also a good idea to factor in some time for things to go a little off track. But don’t give yourself so much time that it’s easy to procrastinate and do nothing for months on end. You need to make sure you are challenging yourself too.

Get into the right frame of mind

When it comes to sitting down to write you will know what makes you at your most focused, creative and productive. If you have set aside all your writing time for 5 am when you know you hate getting up early you’ll probably quickly find it's pretty tough to live up to your expectations. Make sure that you have set time to write when you know there will be few distractions and you’ll feel motivated and excited to do it.

Understand what you are capable of

Be realistic about what you can expect from yourself. If you aren’t you are just setting yourself up for a fall. You don’t have to be the most prolific and dedicated writer in the world. You just need to figure out what works for you. Ask yourself where you want to be, when you want to get there and what you are truly capable of and then create your deadlines around that.

Use a timer

Using a timer can be a really helpful way of making sure you stick to your planned writing sessions. If you say you are going to write for an hour three times a week, each time you sit down to set a timer for that amount of time. Make sure you don’t go over or under your time. Doing more can be damaging as you then don’t have time for other tasks which could leave you feeling stressed out and resenting your writing which will put you off doing it again.

Take breaks

Make sure you take regular breaks away from your writing. If you get too immersed in it, you may end up burning yourself out. It’s always good to finish a writing session on a high and start each new one feeling refreshed and ready to work.

Be strict with yourself

Once you have set yourself a goal and a deadline it is time to stop making excuses. It’s all too easy to start negotiating with yourself, but this won’t get you anywhere, and you’ll end up feeling really guilty and disappointed with yourself. So once a deadline has been set, do everything in your power to stick with it.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals within your allotted time frame can be a great incentive. Come up with some small and large rewards to entice you to keep on going.

Be OK with imperfections

Remember, you aren’t going to have a great writing session every time you write, nor are you going to be happy with what you have written all the time. Don’t dwell on imperfections, and don’t let your own self-doubt or negativity stop you from reaching a deadline.

Setting realistic writing deadlines is crucial to keep you motivated, moving forward and feeling satisfied with your writing. So next time you start a writing project use these tips to help create your goals and timetable, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of staying on track.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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