I see you out there, rolling your eyes.
“Deadlines?” you’re thinking, “What is she talking about? Nobody commissioned this novel she’s writing. She doesn’t have any deadlines.”
I beg to differ.
For one thing, I finished my online UBC course this week (hooray!) and the final exercise was to work out the timeline for writing this draft of the book. “Start with an end date,” suggested the instructors, “work backwards.”
That’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m giving myself one more week to finish my outline (deadline: Nov. 4), then I’m planning to write 1000 words per day, Monday-Friday. Since I’m aiming for a manuscript of 90 000 words, I’ve set my deadline for March 31, 2017. The first date is my mother’s birthday; the second was my grandmother’s. So that’s cool.
But! Not only am I writing a novel; I also write short stories. This is not just a form of writerly procrastination. If my stories get published in literary magazines, it’s going to be far easier for me to find an agent or a publisher for my novel. Accordingly, I’ve been shopping around a couple of stories to Canlit magazines. There are two ways to submit stories to magazines: you can follow the regular submission guidelines, or you can enter your story in a contest. The big advantage to contests (other than glory and prize money, obviously) is that they offer a ready-made deadline. This week, I sent out a story to the Malahat Review’s “Open Season” award, whose deadline is November 1st. Cross your fingers, folks!
As if that weren’t enough, I’ve got another deadline approaching. I’m a member of a writing group, so every few months I’m expected to submit a work-in-progress to be critiqued by my peers. This is an opportunity to knuckle down and produce a reasonably-polished piece of writing so that I can receive feedback from other writers. Next week, it’s my turn to submit a piece. That’s right; November 2nd is yet another deadline, and I’ve been editing another short story to send out to my group.
You see? My weeks are not an unending, measureless expanse of time.
I have plans. I have goals. Yes, I have deadlines.