Deadlines: Are They the Death of You? — Life List Club post by J.A. Bennett

Welcome to another Life List Friday! My name is J. A. Bennett and I will be your host for the day. Jenny is having a little party over at Marcia Richards blog with 3 Simple Rules in Writing and in Life, so be sure to head there when you’re done.

If you want to be a member of the Life List Club, all you have to do is follow this blog, my blog, or any blog listed on the right sidebar under Life List Club. Make your own Life List (check out Jenny’s tab above for inspiration) and follow us around every other Friday. Simple, no? On to the post!

The last job I worked at before my son was born was very deadline oriented. My job was to research property tax issues and make sure all the payments were made on time. This kept our company from swallowing late fees and additional taxes. Every other place I worked at previously had, of course, wanted things done in a certain amount of time, but never had I worked at a place where deadlines where so imperative to the business running smoothly.

It really taught me something about focusing on a task until it was complete and finding solutions (even where I thought there were none) at the last minute. As writers, many of us set personal deadlines for our work, but how effective are they? With NaNoWriMo so prevalent in the writing community right now, how can deadlines be ignored?

It’s week one, go time. Everyone has been pushing out their best and hoping to achieve their goals. There’s a collective deadline – 30 days – 50,000 words. I’m not personally participating in NaNoWriMo, but I’m energized by it. The thought of 50,000 words in a month seems daunting to me, yet, I’m watching others stay on track and stay focused to meet that deadline. This has me focused on the same date.

What if I could finish my novel by the end of November? The idea has me excited, and I think it’s due to this collective deadline. Everyone is encouraging each other, everyone is pushing through and writing their hearts out. It reminds me of my last job and has me excited for that thrill I used to get from sorting out a complicated issue on time.

Even without  officially signing-up I feel the pressure and the excitement. I’ve tried to set deadlines for myself before, but it’s difficult when the only person I have to answer to is me. In this case, everyone in the writing community is expecting more from each other and the feeling is contagious.

Have you caught the deadline fever (whether you are doing NaNo or not)? Do deadlines you personally set motivate you?

*all pictures were taken from Google images

J. A. Bennett is a stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Besides writing, she has a passion for cooking and good movies. She blogs at A Book, A Girl, A Journey about writing and other musing on life. She is currently writing a young adult novel that involves time travel and secret societies. Find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and Google plus here.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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34 Responses to Deadlines: Are They the Death of You? — Life List Club post by J.A. Bennett

  1. hawleywood40 says:

    In college, I was editor of our weekly campus newspaper. The thrill of writing articles and editing and publishing an entire paper on a weekly deadline was exhilarating, and I loved it! I managed to work at that paper full-time (it was a paying job, and we all poured ourselves into it), take 4 classes a semester and consistently makes Deans List, and still have lots of fun too. The deadlines fueled my energy because they were deadlines for work and classes that I loved. When I was implementing our student information system years later (in my mid-late 30s), we have even more stringent deadlines sometimes. Those panicked and drained me, because they were for work I “tolerated” rather than “loved.” So I guess for me, whether deadlines are good or bad depend on what they are for – I can definitely see how all that NaNo energy flowing out there would inspire you!

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  2. timlobrien says:

    I love working under deadlines. There is nothing like the feeling of working under pressure and enjoying the satisfied feeling I get when its over and thus avoided being struck head-on with failure. I have always pictured in my mind deadlines as the Mom and Dad standing behind you yelling to get your work done or else. I never want to find out what the “or else” is.

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  3. Stacy Green says:

    Deadline fever is a good term. I’m not participating in NaNo, but I’ve set a goal to begin querying by November. This week, I’ve been on a frenzy with my query letter, second guessing it and trying to decide when to send it. Deadlines are good, but the pressure can drive you crazy if you let it.

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  4. I can definitely relate. Deadlines do help us to focus. I remember in college, I always waited til the last minute, whether it was to study for an exam or to write a paper. There was always a deadline and it sure got us students motivated when crunch-time came. I still have the occasional nightmare about missing a college deadline. At home and in professional-life also, deadlines help to keep us focused on the things that need to get done. And if there’s a little excitement thrown in, so much the better!

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  5. Deadlines and me have a tangled history. LOL. In college, I wrote almost every paper at the last minute. The grades were always great but the stress was horrible. I’ve finally learned to appreciate the planning process. The Life List Club and ROW80 have taught me a lot about breaking my big goals down into more reasonable pieces. That way, the deadlines don’t seem so deadly.😀 Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Cate Masters says:

    Yay, another NaNo’er.
    The nice thing about NaNoWriMo is that it’s a self-imposed deadline, with no negative consequences. In fact, my objective is to write as much as possible but if I don’t make 50k, I’ll at least have a good head start on a first draft, so objective accomplished.
    Wishing you good luck!

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  7. Deadlines – I’ve got one right now for a book due last week to my publishers! Argh! (Got sidetracked…) But they’re valuable. One of the key things I’ve found to writing successfully is getting the results – pushing ahead. Deadlines help do that, and as various people have commented here, NaNoWriMo is one way of creating a deadline. It’s all good.

    Matthew Wright
    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

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  8. I’ve got the fever, or as i always call it “closure needs.” Sigh. I can’t let much sit for long without it calling to me like some tell tale heart. So far meeting all my NaNo goals, but I imagine there’s going to be one of those hitting the wall days. I do love the feeling that “everyone” is doing it though!🙂

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  9. Roni Loren says:

    Things like nano don’t necessarily make me keep a deadline because I know there is no real consequence if I don’t meet the goal. However, once I got a book contract and had hard deadlines to turn books in by, I found that VERY motivating, lol. It definitely keeps me more focused.

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    • I know what you mean about no consequences that’s why I can’t set goals for myself, but the fact that there is constant motivation with everyone working towards the same goal is what gets me going. Although I guess I should enjoy the time I have without a ‘real’ deadline, lol!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yep, I’d say having a publisher giving you stink-eye over not turning in your book would be motivating…

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  10. Jess Witkins says:

    Ack! NaNo! I’m behind cause of the good ol’ day job. I keep reminding myself I’ll get it done, but that it has to be at my pace, which will mean some days with no writing, and some days with lots of writing. So yes, deadlines are overwhelming me. I need to follow Pam’s advice in her guest post for me and make a survival kit: cozy sweaters, tea, chocolate, ibuprofen! Good to go! LOL

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  11. amyshojai says:

    If it doesn’t have a deadline, isn’t on the calendar, it doesn’t EXIST in my world, LOL! Now with my Blackberry “reminder” I’ve got beeps tooting my way 24/7.

    Yes, I need to get a life. *s* Enjoyed the post. Heading over to see what Jenny’s doing, too.

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  12. I love self-imposed deadlines. It’s funny because I didn’t understand them until I trained for a half-marathon. If you can’t walk/run four miles by such and such a date, you can’t expect to walk six miles, ten miles, thirteen miles etc. when the race comes around. I have a self-imposed writing outline for November 15th. I think it’s good practice for when you really have deadlines for books, outlines, proposals etc.

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  13. Marcia says:

    Deadlines and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate the stress associated with them, but it’s the only way I get anything done…that and my lists. Nice piece of work Jennie.

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