What’s a deadline?
We probably all know what a deadline is but just to make sure we’re all starting from the same point, let’s talk about what exactly a deadline is. It’s simply a date either you pick or that’s given to you when you need to have a project finished by. You need to be typing “the end” on or before this date.
Benefits of a deadline
There are a variety of benefits to having a deadline. Some of the things I find most helpful about having a deadline include:
Gives you something to shoot for
I happen to find it almost impossible to write if I don’t have a deadline. I blame school for that, but I digress. I like a deadline because it gives me a goal to shoot for. When I know I have so many days to work on a story, it gives me the kick in the butt I need. It’s motivating. And I know I'm not alone in that feeling.
Provides a time limit
Many writers would write their story FOREVER if they didn’t have a deadline and while a story can never be perfect (especially in the eyes of the writer), eventually we do have to stop and be finished. A deadline provides that finish line.
Allows you time to plan your project
A deadline also helps you plan. I know the pantsers are rolling their eyes right now but yes, even you, pantsers! Whether you use an extensive outline or are flying by the seat of your pants, a deadline allows you to plan how much you’re going to write each day or where you need to be in the story before you finish for the day.
Do you need to write 500 words today or 5,000 to ensure you hit your deadline? Do you need to finish chapter 5? Whatever the case is, a deadline can help you set up your writing goals for the day.
Disadvantages of a deadline
Just like most things, deadlines have their disadvantages as well. While they can be motivating, they can also stop you in your tracks and have you staring at a blank screen or page for hours.
Can be horrifying and stressful
While I love a deadline, they are also HORRIFYING! Each day, hour, and minute that passes gets you closer to the deadline and “omg am I going to finish in time?? Is it good enough?? Do I have time to start over??”
Writers are filled with doubts, stress, and imposter syndrome and deadlines don’t exactly help with stress levels.
Deep breathing, a solid plan that you can stick to, and someone to commiserate with are key!
If it’s too short, a deadline can cut off your creativity
While a deadline can stop you from working on a project forever, if it’s too short of a deadline, it can also hinder your creativity and limit what you can do.
Anyone that has participated in The Writer’s Games knows that, while your idea may be great, if you can’t do it in 72 hours, it’s not the right idea for that Event.
But beyond The Writer’s Games, if you make a deadline for yourself that is too short, you may be limiting your own creativity. Give yourself some time to brainstorm, think through plot holes, and change certain character actions, if necessary.
Even if you have your story planned down to the letter, make sure to add a few extra days in there to give your creativity some time to go with the flow.
What are your thoughts on deadlines? Do you love them or hate them? Let us know!
About the Author: Sarah Perchikoff is a content, entertainment, and food writer as well as a book reviewer (what is free time??). When she's not writing, she is stocking up on sour candy, books, and blankets, and playing with her miniature dachshund, Gracie.