Deadlines are important for authors. Why? According to the Writer’s Digest, a deadline makes the difference between someone who takes writing serious and someone who merely dreams of becoming a writer. Deadlines help that goals are met, that pages are written, that you as an author push yourself to complete your work.
And yet, writing on a deadline inevitably comes with a lot of stress. That’s why we from Online-Spellcheck.com gathered some tips and tricks on how to successfully write (and survive) when writing on a deadline.
Tips On How To Write On A Deadline
It doesn’t really matter if you got a deadline set by your superior or editor, or if you set it all for yourself. You have and should and can meet it nonetheless.
Of course there are valid reasons to put down the pen or step away from the keyboard. Emergencies, help in the family, accidents and the like. But apart from that, nothing should keep you from meeting your goal!
It’s not easy to create the perfect writing schedule. Sometimes, you overestimate the number of words or pages you can create per day. Your daily form differs as well, and sometimes, unforeseeable things can come in the way.
There are many apps and websites out there that measure how fast you are writing. 50 words per minute? 80? 100? But that’s not quite what we are looking for. Of course it comes into play when it comes to the actual writing. But when you want to set yourself a deadline or find out if you can meet one you got, you have to find out how fast you are with everything that belongs to the writing.
This includes style and formulations, re-writing parts, research, spellcheck and formatting, but also breaks and time a potential proof-reader will need. Estimate how much time you need for writing roughly one page, then you will know how many pages per day or week you can write without sacrificing sleep, work or time to eat (and maybe still have a bit of free time).
Then, don’t forget to add some additional time to re-read your whole work, formulate things a bit differently, add changes and suggestions, and the like. Then, take some extra time for spellchecking and formatting.
Yet, no matter how carefully you plan and how much buffer you gave yourself, some things can not be foreseen. If there is a reason why you did not meet your deadline, give it a realistic rather than a pessimistic view.
Instead of feeling like a failure or blaming yourself for not meeting your Deadline, analyze why you couldn’t meet it. Could the reasons for that be prevented? And if so, how? Only those who make mistakes can learn from them. You will do better next time!
Prioritizing is a vital part of meeting your deadline. And it accounts for two different aspects of writing:
- Make writing and finishing your novel, article or book a number one priority.
- Prioritize what to write first from a number of assessments.
- Break down a huge writing task and start with the worst.
Make Writing your Priority
If you have to meet an important deadline, it may happen that you have to miss out on the newest movie, a gym session, the casual meet-up with your friends. It sucks, sure, but if you set your goals, you want to achieve them, don’t you? And not drag them further and further along. Thus, cut out more time consuming and less important things from your schedule until you met your deadline.
Of course we are not suggesting to neglect your health or completely shut out your friends and family. Communicate with them that you need to get this story, book or commission done before you can spend all your time with them again. Sleep and eat enough during your breaks.
You can not cut out your family or work while still having to meet your deadline? Then pick a certain time of your day to dedicate to writing only. When you live with someone, make sure that your loved ones know about the importance of your “writing time” so you can not only go undisturbed and un-distracted, but also with a clear conscience.
Decide which Job to do First
The second part comes when you have more than one writing job or desire, wish or goal. When you have to decide whether you should write on your long-time novel, a magazine article or a submission you want to place, you should ask yourself which of those is your most important one.
A good strategy is to always start with the one you can gain most profit from. You have the chance to make a living or at least a few bucks with a certain writing project? Prioritize and do that one first. It not only earns you money, but also credentials that ultimately lead to more jobs. Next, focus on submissions and other writings that can be published and spread further in a relative short amount of time. Long-term writing like a novel or screenplay come last, at least on the list of writing priorities. Those are mostly work-in-progress pieces you are more passionate about anyway, and those need a lot time and love to become as perfect as you wish them to be.
Break up your Writing
Now you prioritized your writing above all else and decided on the project to write. Inside this project, you can further prioritize, and that’s done the easiest way by breaking down your writing into smaller chunks.
As stated above, you can split your writing into weekly, daily, even hourly chunks. Introductions, research, gathering source material, editing, formatting, spellcheck, closing words, the huge discussion in the middle part… All these parts should be individually tackled and broken down by you.
Of course, this split into separate chunks already gives you an idea of what to do first. Naturally, gathering sources and doing research has a higher priority than formatting the bit of text you already have. Furthermore, when the groundwork is set, you should start with what you like the least. It’s the part we’d like to procrastinate about most, and once you got it taken care of in the beginning, you don’t have to worry about it anymore when the deadline draws closer.
Stay Persistent & Avoid Distraction
Distractions are your worst enemy when trying to meet a certain timely goal. When you get distracted from your work, you lose time by procrastinating and doing anything but what you should be doing. But the loss of time isn’t even the worst: you lose motivation and drive as well. After straying to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube while you should be writing only results in you being even more reluctant when you have to go back to what you were supposed to do.
No social media! No YouTube or other video platforms! And also no other chores! Turn off your phone and even your internet if you don’t need it for writing and research! Limit the distractions around you to an absolute minimum when it’s your time to write!
Take Scheduled Breaks & Reward Yourself
What? You just said I should avoid distraction and now you tell me that I should take breaks? Yes! Because there is a distinct difference between the two.
First and foremost, breaks should be scheduled and part of your initial planning. This means that you are not really wasting or losing any time while taking your breaks.
Secondly, these breaks are needed to get your mind away from the topic. It may seem strange, but it actually helps you to keep the creative juices flowing.
And last but not least, those breaks should be used to do yourself something good. Get a healthy snack and drink something.
And once you are done? Reward yourself!
Congratulations, you just met your deadline! That calls for a trip to the lake, a big bowl of ice cream, a nice warm bath, chocolate, or a nice and relaxing scheduled massage. You did it, you glorious being, now reward yourself!