Monday, October 6, 2008


I find myself setting deadlines, my own deadlines for work to be submitted. Big Dawg (the alpha female in my writing group) does not wag her tail happily when I do this. She bares her teeth and growls.

Artificial deadlines are not conducive to good writing. If you're like me, you say things like: "I want to finish up and get this out by next week." "I'm running behind. I should be finished by now."

The pressures of life are daunting. In the work-a-day world, there's competition for everything from a grocery cart to a job. Traffic lashes at good humor and something at home always seems to need fixing. The kids quarrel. The dog has to go to the vet. Stress. The stress of everyday living. Why add stress to your life?

As much as I hate to admit it, Big Dawg is right. Adding one more stressor to life by setting that artificial deadline doesn't make for successful writing. I've come to realize that if the writer pushes for inspiration, it seldom comes. The thousand words on the pages of that new work in progress must be the right thousand words. Setting deadlines for yourself, dates and times you feel you should be finished and ready to submit, add stress. Worse than that, those deadlines make for dead lines, words that will inevitably be erased during revision and that do nothing to advance your story.

Keep this in mind as you begin to twitch and writhe, believing yourself to be too slow or too late in submitting. If an editor says, "I need these revisions in a week," then that's a real deadline. Do it. If it's the voice in your own head talking, weigh it out. Deadlines or dead lines. Your choice.


Gini Koch said...

Oh, such wisdom! Like music to my ears! :-D

One addendum to your points that I've found personally vital -- setting a consistency goal. I'm a huge proponent of Club 100 (100 words a day for 100 days), because the goal is so reachable. However each writer does it, though, consistent output is key.

But, as you so eloquently put it, false deadlines created unnecessary stress that doesn't really move you along the path and doesn't truly get you into an agent's hand quicker. Aesop was right -- slow and steady truly does win the race.

WKEverhart said...

Thank you for the vote of "wisdom." Would that it were so. I agree that the more we write the better we write. Slow and steady, that even paced writer always has more success that the one who's rushing through like an eager rabbit making those "artificial" deadlines.