Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with deadlines.
Luckily, as an adult, I haven’t had too much to do with them, but I remember a geography essay in school that I started – successfully – the night the assignment was set. I then sat for about three weeks and then, the night before I had to hand it in, I spent three hours on a bibliography that wound up being longer than the essay itself.
I knew I should have done history.
Anyway, deadlines, for the self-publisher, tend to be self-imposed. Without a publishing house sending regular check-up style emails or meetings with agents, publicists and such, it can be easy to watch as the calendar slips from one year to the next with no tangible result.
Because we all like to accomplish something, for want of a better word, real, it can be good to give yourself a few goals.
When writing anything, it’s very easy to lose heart from time to time. Writing is a pretty solitary task for most of us. I know, in every sitcom and every soap, there’s usually someone tapping away in a café somewhere and I’m sure there are people who can do that: write with an audience.
I know myself well enough to know there’s no way in the world.
For starters, I’d probably people-watch so hard that I wouldn’t get any work done. More than that, if anyone even sent me a passing glance, I’d feel the need to explain what I was doing, turn it into a conversation, and never type so much as a title.
But perhaps that’s just me.
Getting back to my point, as a solitary task, writing and publishing can feel a little bit like shouting into the void, with absolutely no idea if anyone is actually listening.
As with so many things in life (ooh, get me with a life lesson, here), it’s often best to focus on something you can control.
So, okay, you can’t determine who will read you, how soon you’ll get a film deal, how many affairs you’ll have with A-list actresses, when your bank will need to expand their vault to deal with your business; but you can control your output.
I’m not saying, even for a second, to set yourself ridiculous goals. If you can put out quality writing, well-placed, well-priced, uncompromising and relevant, every month – go for it.
If you want to spend a year with your work in progress, do.
However long it takes, it’s important to finish.
(Side note: The first draft is almost always dire. A few lines might survive, but often, the first draft is an embarrassment. But like the saying goes – you can’t edit an empty page. A first draft is better than no draft.)
So, set yourself a goal, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t quite stick – life gets in the way for all of us – keep at it, and try to remember that climbing the mountain is all well and good, but take a moment to check out the view.