Deadlines. You either love them or hate them. You live by them or… well, fail by them. Whether or not you enjoy deadlines doesn’t change the fact that they exist.

Maybe it’s a deadline for something fun, like a three month reading challenge that I take part of in the YA-MA Goodreads Group. Maybe it’s a deadline for school, either a paper or a test. Maybe it’s self-imposed, something you created for your own work.

Those self-imposed deadlines are the ones I’m talking about. As a writer, reader, and creative person, I often have my head in the clouds and need to bring myself back down to earth. Deadlines help me focus on writing, reading, even running.

I recently started a neilarey.com 8 Weeks to 5K running workout. In middle school, I ran cross country and loved listening to my own footsteps through the woods. That first mile I ran during tryouts was horrible, but I can proudly say the mile has gotten a lot easier. Having just finished week five of this workout, I feel great whenever I cross out a day on a calendar. Seeing the days disappear means I’m also getting stronger, faster.

I can feel it in my lungs too. I’m healthier.

But that’s not enough for me. Getting in shape was one small part of it. I decided to pair the workout with something writing related, called 8 Weeks to Publication. I made a specific schedule with everything I had to do for Girl Nevermore including editing, proofreading, cover reveals, contacting reviewers, everything. It’s all down on paper, and every day, I cross another day off.

There was a minor hiccup, but I think I’m back on track. Having the schedule is keeping me driven, motivated. It’s forcing me to take one small step at a time, one day at a time, and have a solid plan when approaching the revision process.

In college, I lived by my calendar. I wrote down my whole syllabus, organizing it by due date, at the very beginning of the semester. It allowed me to get ahead, stay on track, and figure out how much time I could dedicate to one project.

Deadlines are easier to ignore when they are self-imposed. But if I can finish three month reading challenges with a specific end date, I can also finish my writing challenges. If I give myself a deadline, I will meet it.

I’m still aiming for a publication date of September 8 for Girl Nevermore, but I am methodically going through the editing process. If I find any more extreme hiccups, I’m not afraid to push the publication date back. (Quality comes first, obviously).

But I enjoy this method so much, I’m starting another 8 Weeks to Publication for The Unanswerable. This method will only work once I’m in the editing process. Drafting is much more creative / not deadline-oriented for me.

How about you? Do you follow deadlines? Do they work? How often do you allow yourself to push them back? Or are you more of a go-with-the-flow person? Everyone’s different! Tell me how you keep yourself motivated!

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