My friend Jason Cantrell posted about deadlines, and without imposed deadlines projects can just drift. As a fellow indie author, I understand all too well, in particular because now that I’m full-time, I’ve got no one but me and “all the time in the world” (excluding kids, other obligations and well, life).
Here are a few tips for creating real deadlines:
This is someone, or a group of people, who will hold you accountable for meeting a date that you set. For myself, I set a date of April 15th as being the date I would get my next book to my beta group. They all agreed, and because I know these are very busy people, if I miss that deadline, I’ll be out of luck. I have to hit that marker.
Another way to do this is to have a fellow writer who is about the same level as you, and working on a piece that they want to get out around the same time that you do. This is the equivalent of having a gym buddy. Make sure that your personalities complement, and that you can react properly to them giving you a poke rather than thinking “Who do you think you are?”
I’ve been launching my books at FanExpo events (equivalent to Comic-con). They have very set dates, and working backwards through the amount of time needed for printing and what not, I end up with a “must be finished by, or you blew it” dates. This helps get the lead out but only if the date is near enough, and if you do the leg work of breaking down the amount of time needed for betas, editing, revisions, printing and launch. Otherwise you get 3/4 through the time only to realize that you blew it months ago.
Having an event where you’ve already paid has some serious incentive. If you can’t find an event or don’t have money for it, then you can look for something simpler like arrange a library talk.
For my first book, there was the event, but for book 2, while I did have a launch event scheduled, part of me wasn’t completely convinced I could make it. That then resulted in “feeding the insecurity demons.” This is kind of a reverse psychology on the self, where you allow yourself to feel shaken enough that then you stand up and yell “SCREW YOU! I’M GOING TO GET THIS DONE!”
It’s also a cousin to the “panic in your soul” which is where you write and try to get things done as quickly as possible because you hope that it will remove that sense of panic from your belly. I have this, though it waxes and wanes at times (not right now, I’m freaking out that I’m spending time writing a blog entry because I’m behind on book 4!). The problem with this is that you can feel manic, and start to seriously psyche yourself out.
It really comes down to wanting it badly enough. No one can make you do anything. You have to want your own success badly enough that you are willing to change. There is no magic scheme where you’ll get something for nothing, where you’ll get the rewards without putting in the effort. The person who has to want this first and foremost is you. Once you want it, finding a way to keep yourself focused and motivated is about finding the right tools to help you build that up within yourself. Those tools might be people (I don’t think that comes out right 😉 ), or an app that nags you, or making sufficient changes to your routine that life becomes different.
Remember, you have to want it badly enough in the first place.