Deadlines are a very powerful motivator. Take this blog, for example. If I weren’t contractually obligated to post here every other Tuesday, I wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong- I like writing and I’m grateful that you’re reading, but it probably wouldn’t get done in time. Because I have a deadline, I write a blog post every other week. It gets done.
The downside of this is that sometimes my posts end up being something short of my very best work. I have some degree of perfectionist tendencies, and it’s hard for me to post something that I feel falls short of my very best. The reality, though, is that I have a limited number of hours to spend on my writing. It’s hard to find the correct balance between drafting my current WIP, reading books from my WIP’s genre, revising my first book, researching agents, querying, attending conferences, critiquing other writers’ work, building an online presence, reading books or blogs about writing, etc.
Hence the deadlines. I’m most likely to be working on whatever absolutely needs to be done next. If I create a deadline for my current WIP (like 3,000 words this week) and tell myself that it’s not negotiable, I will probably make the sacrifices necessary to get 3,000 words written.
But will it be my best work? Probably not. Does that matter? Yes, because nobody (including me) wants to read anything less. No, because at least I have words on the page and I have something more than a blank canvas to work with.
In the end, deadlines lead to progress, which makes them invaluable to me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got about 2,500 more words to write…
What about you? Are you more productive with deadlines, or just more stressed? Are deadlines worth the possible downsides (sub-par work, disappointment and discouragement when deadlines aren’t met, etc.)?