Dealing With Deadlines


Dealing With Deadlines

Dealing With Deadlines

Dealing With Deadlines
Hello everyone, Winne Griggs here. 
Right off the bat, let me apologize for the brevity of this post. I’m on deadline right now and for a number of reasons, not all of them under my control, I got behind schedule. So now I’m in catch up mode with a number of ‘burning the midnight oil’ sessions ahead of me between now and my actual deadline.

So what I thought I’d do today, in place of my planned post, was to list a few tips and quotes for dealing with deadlines, something for my benefit as well as yours.

Dealing With Deadlines

First, some things to help keep you from deadline panic mode 

  • Don’t Set Yourself Up To Fail
    Most of us have a say in the deadlines before they are set in stone. Make sure you know your capabilities, whether it be words/day or words/week. And keep in mind this is a number you can maintain consistently. For me that number is fairly low – 750 words/day with an occasional 1200 word day. Then I pull out a calendar and block off holidays, conferences I plan to attend and family events such as vacations. I also bake in time – for me it’s 3 days a month – where I cut my word count in half to allow for research and other unexpected interruptions. After I’ve laid all that out I see how long it will take me to get the first draft done. Then I add 3-4 weeks for polishing and revision.

    By the way, I’m a spreadsheet nerd and have a handy-dandy spreadsheet I’ve developed over the years to track all of this – if any of you are interested in obtaining a copy just let me know.
  • Don’t Over Commit
    Whether it be to another writing project that comes up unexpectedly that you hope to squeeze in, or other social or family projects or activities that you’re tempted to participate in, be realistic when you evaluate how they will impact the deadline you’ve already committed to. Learn the power of saying no.
  • Don’t Procrastinate
    This is a biggie for me. I’m especially bad about this when I reach the 40-50% point in my WIP. It’s at that point that I start wondering if this story is any good, if I’ve lost my ability to create a coherent story, if I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Once I hit this wall it’s easier for me to do just about anything else than to face my writing demons and push through. One solution for this is to have an accountability partner, someone you check in with once a week or so. And hopefully this is a program you can turn to if you need help brainstorming your way past a story wall or imposter syndrome type feelings.

Dealing With Deadlines

Some things to help if you do find yourself in deadline trouble 

  • Eliminate Distractions
    Staying focused at this point is absolutely crucial. As difficult as it may be for many of us, shut down all social media sites, let family members know when you’re writing you aren’t to be disturbed except for emergencies, and put off or delegate whatever chores or errands you have on your plate until your deadline is met.
  • Adjust your work hours
    To the best of your abilities, increase the amount of time you dedicate to your writing each day, even if that means you get fewer hours of sleep on a temporary basis. Of course, this is a strategy of diminishing returns – it’s not something you can maintain for a long stretch of time.
  • Take breaks
    This may be counter-intuitive, but taking (short) breaks is a good way to keep your mind focused and sharp and your creativity flowing. You also need to make sure you eat regularly and keep yourself hydrated. Just make sure you keep the breaks brief and don’t get lost in social media or other distractions that can sabotage your plans. Set a timer if you need to.

Dealing With Deadlines

And what do you do if worse comes to worse and you actually miss a deadline?

It happens. So how do you handle it?

  • Communicate
    It's absolutely critical that as SOON as it becomes obvious you’re not going to make it, inform everyone it’s going to impact – your agent, your editor any freelancers you’ve contracted with. They need to know as soon as possible so they can make the appropriate  adjustments. And if you negotiate an extended deadline, whatever you do make absolutely sure, barring acts of God, that you’re able to hit it
  • Learn From Your Mistakes
    Analyze what went wrong. Were you were optimistic in how much you can produce daily/weekly on average? Did you fail to take interruptions into account - like holidays, travel days, edit & promo activity on previous books? Did unexpected illnesses or family emergencies hit you? Whatever the case, try to figure some way to learn from it and factor that lesson into your next occasion to negotiate a deadline.
Dealing With Deadlines

Dealing With Deadlines

There you have it, my short and sweet list of how to deal with deadlines. And yes, the fact that I'm in catch-up mode right now makes this post a case of do as I say, not as I do!  :)

What about you - do you have any tips or pointers to add? Lessons learned you'd like to share?

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for winner's choice of any book from my backlist.


50 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: Dealing With Deadlines

  • Ruth Logan Herne
    on February 21, 2020 | 06:26 Ruth Logan Hernesaid :
    "Winnie, what a helpful post for so many writers. Those deadlines can seem like a l-o-n-g time to get the job done, but all too soon they're at our door and the EEK! mode takes over.

    I've found that working "ahead" of the game helps me. If I'm a month or more ahead on everything, then when emergencies arise (and they always do) or there's a situation that needs me or sickness prevails, I've bought myself the time to be fully present in the moment... and not worrying about my time frame.

    I think I copied this from Margaret Daley way back in the day as an unpublished author. I would set personal deadlines, and then get things done ahead purposely so when that call came (and it was a long time, LOL!) I'd be ready to meet the challenge.

    I think folks don't realize that it's a lot like running a race... A kicker might be able to overcome the leaders most of the time in the final 400 meters, but if you rely on that strategy all of the time, you're going to miss some of those deadlines. And that can't possibly make editors happy.

    Great advice."
  • Ruth Logan Herne
    on February 21, 2020 | 06:27 Ruth Logan Hernesaid :
    "I brought coffee, tea and fastnachts because Lent is around the corner. And some more of those amazing beignets."
  • Cate Nolan
    on February 21, 2020 | 08:07 Cate Nolansaid :
    "Good morning, Winnie. Sending prayers and good wishes to you as you work to meet your deadline.

    For me, Rick Riordan hits the nail on the head. That's me. I've written about that before here, but until I feel the burn of that deadline, my brain just can't pull it together.

    But that is really stressful, so I'm diligently trying to change that process."
  • Cate Nolan
    on February 21, 2020 | 08:09 Cate Nolansaid :
    "Ruthy, I've always thought that was a great strategy. As I mentioned below, I'm TRYING to train my brain to work that way, but it's been a slow process. I'm encountering that brain lag as I work on revisions now, but I'm determined to push through and get them done ahead of time."
  • kaybee
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:05 kaybeesaid :
    "Ruthy, you are right. It never hurts to prepare in advance, or to build in some time. For pretty much anything.
    Kaybee "
  • kaybee
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:05 kaybeesaid :
    "I have never had a beignet. Did you make them?"
  • Lori Smanski
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:10 Lori Smanskisaid :
    "This is a really great post. I found long ago that for me personally, if I make a list of each day what and how long I am to do it, it gets done. I check it off and ohhh I feel great. When I got married there was no such thing as lists and organization. LOL I was a fly by the seat of my pants girl. My husband being an engineer and having to keep deadlines has his own system. After looking at me and how I tick, he came up with a specific idea of a specific list idea for me. I have modified it over the years to work for me at the time. But if it isnt broke, why toss it and try a different one. I love this man. He is constantly there if I have a question on this topic (or any other topic :)) quilting dash lady at comcast dot net"
  • kaybee
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:13 kaybeesaid :
    "I thought I was used to deadlines because of my journalism career and believe I was to some degree. But reporting on a selectmen's meeting is not the same as finishing a book or even reading your galleys. It's a whole different dynamic. I trained myself for this by self-imposed deadlines (and I was unupbbed for like a hundred years so I had ample time to do that).
    I use a "chunky" method, biting off a portion of the work every day, unless God gives me a whole block of time. That's been happening a lot this winter, as I have been housebound for various reasons.
    Winnie, this is a good post with a lot of "meat" on it.
    Kathy Bailey
    Juggling deadlines in New Hampshire"
  • Glynis
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:13 Glynissaid :
    "I've said before that I am not good at deadlines that I place on myself. I need something external for motivation. But I am trying! These are great tips that I hope someday--when I have a contract--I'll need!"
  • Glynis
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:15 Glynissaid :
    "Your husband sounds great! I have an engineering degree and worked for a decade in that world, but somehow my organization at work never translated to my writing life, so I procrastinate a lot!"
  • kaybee
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:15 kaybeesaid :
    "Lori, I am a "list nut." I have them for everything. But had to learn to prioritize so the list doesn't run ME. And not to beat myself up if something doesn't get done.
    It's a process.
  • Jan Drexler
    on February 21, 2020 | 09:47 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "Great tips, Winnie! I've used all of them at one time or another, but to see them all in one place is inspiring.

    And the quotes! I have to laugh at the one by Douglas Adams. To my everlasting shame, I've heard a few of those go whooshing by!

    My greatest challenge are deadlines I set for myself. That's the boat I'm in now. I'm working on a uncontracted book, and I've set a deadline to finish it so that I can work on the next project. That new project is my reward for meeting my deadline, and so far it's working!"
  • Lee-Ann B
    on February 21, 2020 | 10:40 Lee-Ann Bsaid :
    "Thanks for sharing your tips Winnie. I just met my first edit deadline ever and it was pretty intense! I'll be sure to bookmark this page for the next round. 😀
  • Debby Giusti
    on February 21, 2020 | 10:46 Debby Giustisaid :
    "We are kindred spirits, Cate. The deadline gets me rolling...otherwise I find projects that are not moving my story forward. Actually, the projects are usually ministry related. I do more outreach to people in need during that pre-deadline time. Then when the deadline is looming, my schedule clears, and I focus almost 100% of the time on finishing the story. I often think it's God's way of allowing me to keep my hand in both worlds...writing and ministry. "
  • Vince
    on February 21, 2020 | 10:53 Vincesaid :
    "Deadlines are only as good as the consequences of missing them are bad."
  • Debby Giusti
    on February 21, 2020 | 11:03 Debby Giustisaid :
    "Winnie, thanks for posting today. Seekerville blogs usually take me about two days to write, create memes, load, etc. When I'm on a book deadline, that blog prep pulls me away from my story. So I'm grateful you took the time to be with us today. Great post.

    I need deadlines to push me through to THE END! I used to think I procrastinated. Now, I realize that I'm a just-in-time writer. I know how much time I need to complete a project and I adjust my schedule to fit the time needed. Of course, if something unforeseen happens, I'm burning the midnight oil...or the one AM or two AM oil.

    I made a mistake with my last story and cut my deadline too short. Actually it hit mid-December. I should have scheduled the deadline for mid-January. Note to self: Christmas demands my attention for most of December. Having a book due in December forced me to move from a book deadline to a Christmas deadline. I achieved both and survived, but hopefully I learned a lesson about the importance of keeping December free from "other" deadlines. :)"
  • Jodie Wolfe
    on February 21, 2020 | 11:06 Jodie Wolfesaid :
    "Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

    On the marketing side, I've learned how to make a spread sheet of sorts for keeping track of blog appearances, when materials are due, etc. so it's easier to prioritize what needs accomplished first."
  • Connie Porter Saunders
    on February 21, 2020 | 11:59 Connie Porter Saunderssaid :
    "Thank you Winnie, for all of these great tips and quotes. I must admit that I sometimes find myself in a race to get reviews done but I have learned to keep a journal to jot them down.
  • Missy Tippens
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:19 Missy Tippenssaid :
    "Winnie, that looks like a full post to me! And a great one. Thanks for sharing your advice. I'm always working to do better with deadlines.

    Now I'm off to finish two more devotionals before my deadline of March 1! :)"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:25 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Ruthy, trying to get ahead of your schedule is a great strategy. Unfortunately I've never been able to accomplish that. I think it's because I try to weave too many other things into my schedule - multi-tasking is not my friend!"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:27 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Oh Ruthy, I haven't had a good beignet since I moved away from New Orleans 40 year ago. I'll have 2!!"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:32 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Cate, that's me too. In fact, all of these quotes spoke to me.

    Debby, that's a great way to operate and it must give you peace that you see God's hand in your work."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:36 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Lori, having a supportive spouse is such a blessing, especially for a writer!

    Glynis, believe it or not I was an IT Project Manager before I retired and was much more disciplined in that than I am in my writing (I blame writer's block for sabotaging me!)

    Kaybee, I also like lists - for other things. They don't seem to help much with my writing"
  • Lucy Reynolds
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:43 Lucy Reynolds said :
    "Great tips not just for writers but can be applied to other areas of our lives. "
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:53 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Kathy, yes, I think we use different parts of our brain for reporting as opposed to writing fiction. Glad you enjoyed the post."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 13:57 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Hi Glynis, I am the same way. Unless I know someone else is relying on me, it's hard to stay motivated. Having an accountability partner does help."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 14:27 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Hi Jan. Yes, setting rewards for completion can be a powerful motivator! I should add that to my list :)
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 14:33 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Congratulations on meeting your deadline Lee-Ann! That's a really great milestone to hit."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 14:34 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Love this quote, Vince - is it one of yours?"
  • Erica Vetsch
    on February 21, 2020 | 14:40 Erica Vetschsaid :
    "Wishing you all the best as your race toward your deadline, Winnie! I've got one staring me down nine days from now! Your post is a great encouragement and reminder!"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 15:30 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Oh Debby, I've had December deadlines before and they are no fun! I've promised myself never to do that again"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 16:50 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Another spreadsheet proponent!! They are great for keeping things organized and prioritized"
  • Vince
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:35 Vincesaid :
    "Guilty as charged! :)"
  • Vince
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:40 Vincesaid :
    "Winnie: It's been 42 years since I've been there and I can still remember how a beignet tastes! However, be sure to get them good and hot just minutes after they are made. We'd have to go over to Ruth's house!"
  • Winnie
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:43 Winniesaid :
    "I don't know who said this but I think it's true: If it weren't for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn't get done! Kudos to those who work ahead on deadlines (Ruthy, I'm looking at you!) and those who plod along every day to get things done on time. Thanks to all of you amazing authors who work so hard and share your time and talents with us! You're fantastic!

    Great post, Winnie! "
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:56 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Connie, you're welcome. And I'm glad you found a system that works for you"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:57 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Thanks Missy! And good luck on those deadlines :)"
  • Vince
    on February 21, 2020 | 17:58 Vincesaid :
    "Hi Winnie:

    Deadlines are one thing when you only have them once in a awhile. If you are a retail copywriter you many have three to four deadlines a day.

    How about a post on how to deal with an avalanche of deadlines most of the time?

    I bet Ruth has deadlines every week.
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:08 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Absolutely Lucy. A deadline is a deadline, regardless of the task"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:09 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Nice! I may add this to my list of quotes."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:11 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "I grew up in South Louisiana, just across the river from New Orleans and my mom would occasionally fix homemade beignets - a real treat!"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:21 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Thanks Erica! And wishing you well on your deadline as well"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:23 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Hello Winnie (feels funny writing that ). You're absolutely right about last minute prods and you're quite welcome."
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:33 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "Vince, someone besides me will have to tackle that one. Just the thought of a deadline avalanche gives me the heebee-jeebees! :)"
  • Winnie
    on February 21, 2020 | 18:56 Winniesaid :
    "Yes, it does seem funny--from one Winnie to another! There aren't a whole lot of us around!"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 19:20 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "So true. The only other Winnie's I've met, outside of my grandmother, actually had it as a nickname for Winona or Winter or Edwina. No other actual Winnies"
    on February 21, 2020 | 22:21 SARAH TAYLORsaid :
    "Thank you for sharing as I get behind on things in life I will be remembering some of these posts !"
  • Winnie Griggs
    on February 21, 2020 | 22:30 Winnie Griggssaid :
    "You're quite welcome Sarah. Thanks for stopping by."
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