by Meredith Cole
There’s too much going on in my life and there are too many things competing for my attention (family, kid, cats, garden, etc.) to be on a loosey-goosey schedule. I need deadlines. I crave them. And if an editor is not nice enough to give me one on a project, I make up a deadline for myself.
It seems silly that I would feel obligated to meet a deadline that I made up, but somehow it works for me. It helps me prioritize everything else. What are we having for dinner this week? Ooops, I’ve got a deadline. Take-out! Or I’m getting close to a deadline, so I make sure to set aside extra time to get my pages done.
Also, I think it’s important to reward yourself for a job well done. Or at least done on time. When I finish something big, I give myself some time off from writing. We’re not talking finishing a chapter–but maybe a draft. The time off is both a reward and a necessity, since I need a little breathing room before I start to tackle the next draft.
The rewards I give myself don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to feel special and celebratory, though (Champagne? Chocolate? A massage? Dinner out at a nice restaurant?) Writing does provide its own rewards. There’s nothing like seeing your work in print, and holding your own book for the first time. But there’s a lot of hard work that happens between that first brilliant idea and that book, and sometimes it’s hard to stay focused. So when a writer does stay focused and finishes, they definitely deserve to celebrate. And so I do.