Putting Yourself On Deadline

I love organizing. Not that this means I am organized. To prove this to you I submit a photo of the current state of my workspace.

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I removed nothing. Not even the potentially embarrassing things – for the sake of honesty and to shame myself into possibly cleaning it. Please, shame me in the comments. It will might possibly help. So perhaps you should take any organizing advice from with a grain of salt. But I do love forms, templates, lists, notebooks, folders, labels, stickers, etc. And there is a method to the madness, which I will share with you. Not because you asked me to, but then again, that’s what makes me so nice.

After years of false starts, not finishing a manuscript before starting new ones, that would inevitably not be finished, I grew frustrated and overhauled the way I thought about my writing. I’d joined a professional organization (MRW) and heard a published author bemoaning how she was on deadline and would be holed up for the next week because she had 40,000 more words to write. This was an impressive feat, no doubt, but what struck me the most was that she was on deadline. Now, I didn’t have an editor or anyone clamoring for my work except for my lovely critique partners, but I know a thing or two about deadlines, having been self-employed for the past seven years. More specifically, I know about self-imposed deadlines, but I’d never tried using them for my writing.

I put myself on deadline.

So I drew up a schedule. I’d started using Trello for my project management and I created another board for my writing. Took a look at the calendar and began setting some milestones. This was last fall and I knew I wanted to participate in Nanowrimo. It would take some time to plan that story so I had to finish the draft of the then-current WIP by September. Spend October planning and November writing a new novel. In December, I’d need to rest, then come back strong with revisions in January. 

I wrote it all down, subscribed to the Trello calendar in my Google calendar and put myself on deadline. It was a huge success. In order for this to work I had to carve out writing time and protect it. This piece of the puzzle came together thanks to one of Margie Lawson’s courses. One of the best things I took away from her class was the DUH rule. This stands for:

  1. Do it first, or as close to first as humanly possible
  2. Understand that it may be inconvenient and/or difficult and do it anyway
  3. Hurray, Celebrate! You did it!

Changed. My. Life.

So now, I write first. I get up a little earlier, write for at least an hour, sometimes more, every morning before I start my work day. I don’t answer the phone, check my email, or Twitter or Facebook before writing. I do it first. And it works.

This post is longer than I intended (I’m even nicer than I thought), so next time we’ll talk more about the war against time wastage and I’ll share some tools to help you turn the tide of the battle.

Do you plot your time or pants it? And how is that working for you? Let me know in the comments.

 

Photo Credit: AZRainman via Compfightcc