Deadlines

When I set my writing goals for this year, I thought finishing six drafts in a year wouldn’t be that hard for me. Even when I turned up a seventh draft I wanted to finish, it still seemed doable. Now it’s March, I’m starting to notice that I’m haven’t finished any of them.

This shouldn’t be so hard. After all, seven drafts is nothing compared to writing a story a week, one of the things suggested 12 Secrets To Being A Super-Prolific Short Story Writer.  I’m already doing some of the things it suggests, like knowing where you’re going to end a story and keeping a bunch on the back burners. But I’m not trying to be super-prolific. I just want to finish the stories that are bugging me.

Now, one thing about realizing you have a problem is your brain starts looking around for ways to fix it. When I read in Predictably Irrational (notes forthcoming) of students doing better if they commit to equally spaced deadlines, than if they committed to turning in all their papers at the end, I realized of course it worked better. They planned their work and made a public commitment.

So I’m giving myself deadlines. This blog is the public commitment. I already know the daily deadline of this blog works for me. Making them equally spaced over the year gives me seven weeks each. Counting back from the end of the year, my deadline schedule is:

1. March 12
2. April 30
3. June 18
4. August 6
5. September 24
6. November 12
7. December 31

And amazingly enough, just setting deadlines spurred me into action. I actually worked on the first story, and it’s a lot closer to done. Looks like I realized I was in trouble just in time.

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