"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
~English humorist and science fiction novelist, Douglas Adams
While following hundreds of authors, agents, editors and a plethora of other literary professionals on Twitter, Blogger and Facebook, I came to the realization that I was missing something all of these above people have: deadlines. As a published author, you're given various deadlines: drafts, revisions #1 thru #1,303,439, proofs, and more. Agents and editors have to meet deadlines in order to stay abreast of the current market and publish books target audiences are eager to read RIGHT NOW, as well as deadlines relating to copyeditor, printer expectations and publicity/marketing departments.
Since most of those deadlines are part of someone's part- or full time job, I came to the conclusion that I needed to set goals and deadlines for myself. Using my iCalendar, I mapped out when I needed to have my first and second drafts done, certain revisions completed after receiving valuable feedback from my critique groups or making sure I simply wrote 500 words by nightfall. I also pinpointed what days I needed to work on specific chapters of my MG novel, or the first part of my current WIP picture book. Having these reminders keeps me informed of what needs work and what doesn't.
Creating personal deadlines for yourself also helps when contests rise. If the deadline to submit your entry is down the road, set a goal to finish your first draft by the end of the week or month. If it's shorter than that, try completing it by the evening. Why not choose a unique time to finish it by: "I must finish this part by 4:44pm." Spice it up! No need to be boring.
Professional deadlines have consequences when they aren't met, but by setting your own personal ones now, it will keep you on track, motivate you to write every single day, and help you avoid the evil procrastination.