Deadlines are a fact of the writer’s life. If you have no deadline, for sanity’s sake, create one. It is impossible to get anything done without a deadline. Why? Because there’s always something else to do. Another project, TV, last night’s leftovers, life in general. Make yourself a deadline and make that deadline two weeks before the actual deadline
Here’s some anecdotes from my life. I have someone waiting for part of a novel that isn’t finished. Because I don’t have a hard and fast deadline, it’s been four months and I haven’t finished. You have to prioritize your projects. I used to think it was a good idea to have several projects going at once so if I hit a block on one, I could just switch to something else. But nothing gets done that way. It’s writer ADD. And it’s not good.
Recently, I had to write a full script from an outline in 6 weeks. This is perfectly reasonable. (Gasps from everyone out there taking 3 years to write their first script.) So what do I do? Write 15 pages, wait three weeks, freak out, write 50 pages, wait another week, freak out, finish revisions at 11:47pm on deadline day. Though it works, it’s stressful, depressing, and let’s face it, the script would have been better had I not procrastinated.
Currently my writing partner and I have two months to do the same thing, take a script from outline to polished. Will I be procrastinating. Probably. It’ll be a week before we even have a conference call about the outline. But hey, we’ve got TWO WHOLE MONTHS. Famous last words.
Some would-be writers have a case of the procrastinators so bad that they never even start writing. I recently had a student who asked me how I find the time to write. Of course I told him I simply make the time. If something is important, you carve out a space for it in your life. He proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t know how he’ll do that because he spends most of his free time playing online RPG games. When I asked how much time he spends online his response truly shocked me. Ten hours, he said. Ten hours. Even if he played for eight hours and wrote for two, that would be something. Ten hours! I’m all for the RPGs, but wow.
So here’s my advice: make deadlines. Use excel sheets, post-its, your iPhone’s calendar, an annoying friend, anything to keep you on track. Enter contests and use those deadlines to polish your work. Slay that procrastination dragon. It’ll be a lifelong battle, but one worth fighting! Your writing will thank you.