Keeping my own deadlines


Some of our work deadlines – tax submissions, domain name and website renewals – we have little say in. We just pencil them into our diaries, and deal with them as they come up. Others – manuscript completion dates, following up phone-calls – are entirely up to us, so we first have to set these work goals, and then respect them.

Setting a work goal is relatively easy, though sometimes I am a bit too optimistic with my time-frames – ‘Yes, I’ll get that finished by the end of the week’ – but respecting and keeping my own deadlines takes the business ethic to a whole new level.

Authors, by and large, work for themselves, and have no-one else hanging over their shoulders or monitoring their work-rate, telling them how to run their businesses. No-one to chivvy them along, remind… Sure, there are always lots of other things to do, and people telling us what need done – meals to cook, dogs to walk, meters to read…

But if I pencil some work into my diary – reply to so-and-so by a certain date – these days, I do my utmost to respect my earlier decision. Instead of saying, “Well, I’ll just let that go, and do it when I can,” it saves a lot of time and energy to stick with earlier decisions, galvanising me to meet any deadline, and it means that, by and large, I have more time to attend properly to things that crop up at the last minute, instead of rushing madly.

Which might feel a bit tough, and even, on occasion, a bit confusing: which ‘me’ is doing the running. Is it me the worker, me the boss, me the challenger or me the hopeless optimist? And do I have the discipline to stop and have a lunch break, take weekends off, have time with family? It’s all part of the same ethos of self-respect that takes a job seriously (but not too seriously).

And it works! Yesterday, I finished a clean draft of The Seduction of Susan Scott, the second in my fiction series of books. Having the aim to finish it by the end of August, I challenged myself – why not? – to finish it by the end of last week. And while that turned out to be a trifle ambitious, having made that decision, I have found the energy and inspiration I needed to finish, not too far off my target. For which I am thankful.

Thanks for reading!

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