I've long been a believer in the importance of deadlines, but I've come to accept there is a difference between self-imposed deadlines and deadlines imposed by someone else -- for example, homework deadlines. I was assigned to write a 20-page short story for my English class, and even though my week was busy with midterm exams and I came down with a nasty cold, I found time to finish my story by the 9 a.m. deadline today. I'm sad to admit, if it hadn't been assigned as homework, I probably would have let other work get in the way -- and my story wouldn't even be half-way done yet.
I set goals and deadlines for myself every week, and often I meet them. But the truth is, it's easy during a busy or difficult week -- or when I'm suffering from writer's block, or am feeling uninspired -- to push back deadlines I set myself. I had writer's block when I was working on my story for English class, but since I had to get it done by this morning, no if's, and's or but's about it -- my writer's block was no excuse. I pushed through and got it done.
So, how can you turn self-imposed deadlines into real, accountable ones? Tell someone else about them. I share my writing goals with my dad -- and now I'm going to share my deadlines with him, too. If my dad's expecting another 1,000 words of my novel by Monday, you can bet I'll do my very best to get those words written and in his email inbox! After all, I hate to disappoint him. The best part is I'm the real winner -- because I'll be the ones checking off my writing goals, deadline by deadline.