As the A to Z challenge draws to a close, we can mark off the one of the final dates on our calendar for the month.
Today I want to talk about something personal, something that we all know about but are often less than honest with ourselves about.
We have all done it. Some of us may do it daily, others perhaps only once or twice a year. Some will claim to do it more often than they do, and most will lie about how successful it was.
I am of course talking about setting and hitting deadlines, and how ´X´ marks the spot.
When I have an important deadline to hit, whether it is a personal one, a professional one, or something related to my writing, I will still mark the calendar and cross off each day as they go. We do the same with the children. When there is something coming up, like a trip back to the UK. We make them a special calendar and they can cross off the days as they tick by.
This is important for children, because it helps them gain an understanding of time, and how it passes It also helps them manage their expectations. The closer to the date the more excited they can get, and the more than can start preparing for their trip, putting the finishing touches to the packing lists, etc.
For writers, the principle is often the same. We have deadlines that we need to meet. Some set by publishers and editors, and others set by ourselves. We want to get so many words written by a certain date, or for my current example, fiction has been set to one side while I focus on this blog challenge.
Each day is marked with a cross – figuratively or literally, whichever you prefer – and then we move on to the next day, and the next, readying ourselves for that due date.
A lot of people won’t like working with deadlines, because promises make things real, they make it so that there is a limitation on the excuses you can make not to do something.
For me, deadlines are important, and should always be set.
Getting that first draft written. The deadline there is important, because it does not have to be perfect. Set yourself a strict deadline and start writing. Don’t worry about edits, or plot holes, that comes later. Just write.
A deadline is important for the resting phase too. Don’t rush in too fast, but don’t wait too long and lose the feel.
Editing is important. It is vital to the success and potential success of a novel. If you don’t spend the proper time, attention, and in many instances money on a good editor, then you are only doing yourself a disservice. However, on that same note, you need to understand that your novel will never be perfect. It will never be the way you want it, because every time you read a paragraph you will spot something that you could tweak or do differently. It is a fact, and many novels have become lost in their author’s desire to make it all perfect.
Perfect is a condition that only exists in the world out minds create. It is a lie. Imperfection is what makes us so interesting and special.
So set yourself a deadline on your editing. Make sure you get it done properly, but make sure you also know when to say enough is enough.
Just remember that X marks the spot, so when you reach it, you know you are where you need to be.