It's the first Wednesday of September and time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. (He's got an epic announcement today, so be sure to check it out!) The aim of the group is to provide a safe haven where writers can share their doubts and insecurities without fear of appearing foolish or weak, and anyone is welcome to join.
Today my topic is deadlines. In the last week, I have started a new job doing some editing for a company where tight deadlines are the order of the day - even with incentives offered for picking up jobs that are past their deadline. It helps you to manage the flow of work effectively, which I can see the benefit of. As writers, should we be sticking to deadlines as an integral part of our work? Do they help or hinder creativity?
Maybe you have a publishing contract and are on a timescale for completing edits and revisions. These kinds of external deadlines can really help sharpen the mind. Should indie publishers set their own deadlines? I think so. To be successful, we have to think of ourselves as a mini publishing house - some of us even have our own imprints we publish under - and if we want to release work on a regular basis, having a plan in place goes some way towards that. We need to have a cover by this date, and have tour posts prepared by another date. We'll feel like we're getting things done.
The flipside of the coin is when deadlines make us panic, especially when they're looming large. Some people really thrive under this pressure, but others will crumble. After all, it's hard to put a time limit on creativity. The book will take as long as it takes, and that will be different for every project. But at some point, you have to say enough is enough. A deadline can act as a sort of mental marker - after you hit it, you really should be onto something else. But the best part of a self-imposed deadline is that it's moveable. You can extend it if you really feel like something needs more time than you thought. Even though deadlines are a good thing, no one wants to put out work which is rushed and unfinished.
My biggest goal this year was to write Part 3 of my trilogy. Even though I've had other achievements which I'm proud of, I haven't quite got round to this one yet, and now it's September with a deadline of the end of the year. I'll aim for it, but I'll try not to beat myself up if I don't hit it. Producing your best work has to come first.
Are you a fan of deadlines? Hate them? How do they work for you?
Don't forget to check out the other IWSG participants here.