Deadlines: Friend or Foe?

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By Jan Drexler

Whether self-imposed or contracted, deadlines are a real part of writing. And real writers need to know how to handle deadlines in the way that works best for them.

Last fall, I had a tight deadline. I buckled down to work on it and was making good progress…until a family crisis intervened. I don’t know about you, but a crisis will throw me off my schedule faster than anything! So, I’m here to share with you what worked for me during that crazy, crazy time.

1. I asked for help. When I realized I wasn’t going to meet my deadline, I contacted my agent and my editor. I explained the situation to them and asked politely for an extension. Before I asked, I took a realistic look at my situation. To determine a new deadline that I knew I could keep, I took the number of words I needed to finish the manuscript and divided that by my increased daily word count goal. I had my new target date.

2. I knew my limitations. My normal daily word count was 1500 words per day. I needed to increase that number, but I knew I couldn’t expect myself to write 10,000 words per day for the next three weeks and still have a book people would want to read. But I knew I could increase, or even double my word count goal.

3. I ramped up my daily word count. Doubling my daily word count wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but I found ways to accomplish my goals.

  •  First of all, I knew I needed to get enough sleep. I do my best writing in the morning, so I knew I needed to get up an hour earlier to increase my writing time. That means I needed to get into the habit of going to bed earlier. To do that, I had to sacrifice time working on my favorite hobby, but it was only for a month.
  • I used a timer. I set mine for thirty minutes, and I don’t let myself stop writing until that timer goes off. Then I get up, change a load of laundry or water the plants, and I’m back at my computer for another thirty minutes. I repeat that routine until my daily word count goal is accomplished.
  • I dedicated the time. During that thirty minutes, I need to make sure I’m writing. Not checking Facebook. Not checking my emails. Writing. If a phone call or doorbell interrupts me, I pause my timer until I can come back to the writing. Let’s face it. Life doesn’t have a pause button. To accomplish my goal, I needed to make it work. I needed to sit down in my chair and keep my hands on the keyboard.

4. But the most important factor for me was to have every step of the way covered in prayer. Every step. From the time I committed to the contract to the time I hit the send button. After all, God knows and cares about every detail of my life…and yours. He knows what crisis will hit your family six months from now, or when you’ll come down with the flu, and He knows the story He has laid on your heart to write. Philippians 1:6.

Do you have a deadline looming? Share your favorite tips to meet it in the comments!

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Jan Drexler’s ancestors were among the first Amish immigrants in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing extended family. She writes historical Amish fiction and is published by Revell and Love Inspired.





Comments 1

  1. Jan, I know that pain! Great tips for increasing your daily word count. I would only add that I have to turn off my wifi, otherwise whenever I get a notification, I’m and running to FB or Twitter…great post.

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