Friday Fundamentals: Deadlines


Today’s the deadline to submit my short story for the upcoming anthology set in Faith’s Rogue Mage world.  


No, I’m not kidding. The deadline is on April Fools’ Day.

I submitted my story yesterday, but if I hadn’t had a deadline, I probably still wouldn’t be finished with it. Let me tell you a little something about myself. I don’t like to be late. When I was in college, if I were going to be late to class, I just wouldn’t go. I’m the one who shows up 30 minutes early to everything. I went to a party in college (yeah, just one) and got there several hours too early. Evidently 9pm really meant midnight. So I sat there watching TV with the host, a person I’d never met before, and feeling like a total dork.

But, back to the deadline. There was a part of the story that I was stuck on and had spent weeks trying to figure out. I’d written everything around that scene and had in all caps written in the draft HOW DO I GET THEM OUT OF HERE? (Along with a few more things like INSERT MAGE CURSING.) I’d worked my characters into a corner, quite literally, and knew where I wanted them to go, but I got stuck because I couldn’t figure out how to get them from point A to point B.  I spent a few days just rereading what I’d already written “polishing” the rest (read: procrastinating).


I’d spent a few days staring blankly at the screen and considering working on another project. But, no. This one had a deadline, a finish line. And that deadline pushed me to get it finished. I knew that I would eventually run out of tomorrows. 


Then I decided on the title for my story (Requiem of the Sea) and realized what I thought the story was really about, the underlying message if you will. That gave me the idea for how to get them out! I needed that realization to figure out the problem. Alas, a student came to see me, so I put my work aside.

Later that evening, I realized I knew what I wanted to say and just needed to sit down and write it. I sat down in my office chair and asked everyone to leave me alone until this thing was done. Miraculously, they did. (Thank you, family!) I got myself some strawberries and some of my favorite cheese and got to work. I have no idea if my editor will like what I came up with, but I like it. And I finished ahead of the deadline, if only by a smidge.

In all, get to know yourself. If you need a deadline, make someone set one for you. I definitely need them.

Be sure to check out the anthology when it comes out! You know several of us will be sharing the links and announcements like crazy, so you won’t miss it!


5 comments to Friday Fundamentals: Deadlines

  • Ken

    Great post. That’s an awesome title too. I can’t wait to read it.

    I used my phone calendar to set reminders for me weeks in advance (Seriously, 2 weeks was my minimum) for this deadline. I then dropped it to 1 week, then 3 days, etc.


    I’ve got a pen-and-paper “To Do” list which I put the story deadline on.


    When it turned out that my 8000 word story blew up into a 26k word novella-ish thing, I started a blog countdown to keep it front and center so that I knew exactly how far I had to go and how much time I had to get there.

    Might be a little extreme, but it worked.

    Oh, and even as I type this, my phone just told me that the story was due today 🙂

  • Thanks, Ken! I can’t wait to read yours as well. I saw the praise you got on a review of your WWW story. Congrats.
    I’ve been following your progress on your blog! The daily countdown you posted helped me out too. Thanks!

    I don’t think you’re alone in the oops-it-got-too-big camp!

  • Razziecat

    Yes; I work with deadlines every day at work, so they definitely mean something to me. Unfortunately, that’s true only if they aren’t self-imposed deadlines. If I make up a deadline for myself, I KNOW in my heart that it’s not a “real” deadline. This is why I can write like a speed-demon if I participate in NanoWrimo, but not the rest of the year. I write – I just don’t have as intense a focus as I feel I should. I know, it’s all in my own head, and it’s all about discipline. That is the key: Sit down, stay off the internet, focus hard on the story and get it done. Even when I’m stuck on some story element, like you described in this post, I need to focus and work on getting it done.

  • Razziecat — I totally agree. I am a whole lot more flexible on myself if it’s a self-imposed deadline. I have a feeling John and David would fuss at us for that! 🙂

  • When I was in college, if I were going to be late to class, I just wouldn’t go.

    Soooo me! Especially because with Dr Craighead’s class, because while some teachers would take no notice of students sliding in a minute or two past time, Dr Craighead would make a point of calling the late person’s name out. And I was not the type to want that attention back then. *shiver*

    I’ve started telling my editors not to play nice with me, to threaten to hunt me down and beat me with a big stick if I don’t make the deadline, because if I know I can have a little extra time, I’ll end up taking it. For example, my story for the Rogue Mage anthology decided to finally come together for me…on Friday. *sigh* I should be finished before this coming weekend, and the editor is okay with it, but I still hate myself a little for being a pokey-pants.

    Ah well…