Writing

Forget Resolutions. Let’s Talk Deadlines.

via Microsoft Clip Art

In my house, the tell-tale sign of a new year approaching is directly correlated to the increasing number of Post-it’s and gum wrappers lying around covered with “dates to remember.”  Yes, it’s time to buy a new calendar. 

For many, it’s also the prime season to get organized and take charge of LIFE for the coming year.

I’m guessing there will be a lot of snappy, sappy posts about New Year’s Resolutions flying around the Blogosphere within the next two weeks.  Posts about starting to exercise.  Posts about finding love.  Posts about quitting vices (for good, this time), and finally eating healthy (sickos!). 

And, there will be many, many posts about placing check marks in those boxes of our life’s wishful accomplishments.  We’ll be inundated with an avalanche of hopes and dreams for those temporarily perfect days ahead — endless resolutions. 

Most of which are broken.

Truth be told, I was getting ready to throw the “R” word around as well…until I read a post dismissing the wimpy use of the word “resolution” in exchange for the powerful punch of “expectation.” 

That simple word change turns a somewhat wishy-washy decision into something you fully expect to achieve.  There’s a little more accountability there — something I definitely need. 

You see, I have this, er, tendency towards procrastination.  I’ve talked about it before — click here to catch up and see if you’re also a member of this non-exclusive pantser’s club.

Yes, “expectation,” is better, but I require an extra kick in the old thinking trousers.  I need a word that speaks directly to me.  A word that always instills results, and sometimes even hive-inducing, caffeine-chugging fear. 

That word is “DEADLINE.” 

This is a word I never ignore, even when it looms ten minutes away and I’m still getting out of bed.  I meet deadlines like the ocean meets the sand.  Or, like Elton John meets glitter.  That is, head-on, my friends.

In 2010, I managed to meet most of my writing goals — start a blog, finish my aged WIP, participate and win NaNoWriMo and write five days a week — all with only the whispering encouragement of the ever-fragile “resolution” to keep me focused.  This year, with los big guns de “deadline” having my back, I’m slightly giddy at the thought of what can be accomplished.

There’s little time to wonder, as my first self-induced deadline is coming up: Get novel #1 out the door by July 1st.  Though it’s a deadline that makes me want to spit, put hands to face and scream a la Macaulay Culkin, I will meet it. 

Would things really be different if I called my goals for 2011, resolutions?  Maybe not.  But, I’d rather meet my deadlines, than make and break the same resolutions for the next twenty years.   

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How about you?  Are you able to keep your New Year’s Resolutions?  Any writing goals for the year ahead?

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

42 thoughts on “Forget Resolutions. Let’s Talk Deadlines.”

  1. I’ll see if I can do better with “expectations” than I do with resolutions. 😉

    “Get novel #1 out the door by February 1st.” What does out the door mean to you?

    And good luck to you on all your expectations for 2011

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    1. “Out the door” means I want to start querying agents on or before February 1st. I’m almost done with revisions, and need to get that query letter singing by then.

      Thanks, Linda, and good luck to you, too!

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  2. I don’t do “resolutions”; I usually focus on a word that I want to exemplify the year–growth, accountability, etc. I have goals (with deadlines, etc.), things to do list, etc., but I don’t wait for the new year to start on them (I call this before New Year’s Day period the “assessment period”). I wrote about this a few days ago. I’m almost ready to reveal my word for the year and the new goals for the year.

    As far as writing goals, I am going to make my blog my own (domain name, self-hosted, etc.), finish my NaNoWriMo attempted novel, submit some short stories to contests and magazines, and decide on a dedicated writing schedule (and timeline for accomplishing all this).

    Great post 🙂

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    1. I really like that idea of one word defining your upcoming year. I guess “deadlines” is mine this year. I’ll have to go back and read your post.

      Thanks so much, 2blu, and thank you for reading!

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  3. I LOVE the idea of one word defining your year.

    How about, I use two: cuz I ‘m a rule breaker and make things fit me like that. “GET SERIOUS.”

    Have a wonderful holiday season! I love knowing you. I truly do.

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  4. Love this idea. I’ve hated the word ‘resolution’ for a long time…but deadlines I can do. To the extent that I may or may not have been accused of being a ‘schedule Nazi’ at one point.

    Congrats on getting so much of your list done, that’s great! And best of luck with the novel-writing. I think it’s really smart to build in enough time to make the query letter awesome, too.

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    1. Thanks, WoPro — It’s funny how we can trick our brains with a simple word change, isn’t it?

      Yeah, I’m more worried about the query letter right now. The book feels pretty much done — just a little tightening here and there. But, that will be moot if my query doesn’t convince anyone to take a look.

      Would love to hear how your book is coming?

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      1. Very good question, that. Definitely stalled out editing the WoPro book (speaking of the need for setting New Year’s deadlines!). Large breaks can be okay, because the humor is easier to judge if I’ve been away but it’s frustrating to try to balance the blogging stuff and the other writing, as I’m sure you well know.

        I did start sending out volleys of query letters last year, using the spreadsheet system suggested by this blog post but I anticipate several more volleys before any result…I’m getting more and more positive feedback on the blog, which will make its way into the new query letters; I’m also hoping the numbers will make some impression. And networking, I’m always networking.

        I’m impressed that you’re nearly done with the book! That’s great! Re: the query, it’s true that you should make it the best it can be, make sure it’s 100% proofread etc. After that, it’s more of a numbers game or so I hear. But crossing my fingers for you, for sure. Keep us all posted!

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  5. I totally agree. Resolutions almost beg to be broken. At the beginning of 2010, I told myself to scrap the resolutions and simply “just do” whatever the hell I felt like doing. I’ve stuck with that promise to myself, and it’s been the best year of my life–and the most empowering.

    If “deadline” is the word that does it for you, that’s excellent. Meanwhile, I’ll simply sit here and “know” you’ll get that book out the door by February 1st. Because you will.

    You have some real courage, sister. I think that’s fantastic. May 2011 surpass your every expectation in the best possible way.

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  6. I can’t even remember what my resolution was last year. I don’t even know if it was writing related.

    NaNoWriMo taught me the word “deadline’ is one of the greatest motivators. Great idea!

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  7. That comment about Elton John was Hi-Larious.

    You are SO right. I had three resolutions for the New Year and only one of them happened, and it was because I gave it a deadline. That deadline was to finish my novel by the end of THIS year. So, you are right. Deadlines work!

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  8. Arghh. I long ago resolved to stop making resolutions, and I have done that one! The only part of your excellent post I really subscribe to is YOUR getting YOUR novel done so I can read it. Curl up in my cozy chair and read it!

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  9. Aw hecks yeah. A friend gave me a poster that says deadlines amuse me. Resolution is a fine thing but I’ve always thought it silly to think your life will change because of a date on the calendar. If we’re really gonna be committed enough to change something in our lives we won’t wait until a specific holiday. I’d actually say that January 1st is the worst day to start something because then you’ve let the starting blocks with a bunch of people who will fail and bring you down. I think you sound motivated enough to make it, so no Kevin McCallister face for you!

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    1. You said it! When I used to belong to a health club, I avoided it during the month of January — too crowded. But, come the middle of February, things were already back to normal…all of those resolutions broken.

      I’m already out of the gate, and am almost forcing myself to wait until February. I don’t want to send it out before it’s ready…but I’m ready!

      Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

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  10. I don’t make new years resolutions because they have always ended in failure, usually by the second week in January (nothing motivating at all about being a loser in the first month of the year.)

    I will keep writing something in 2011…I haven’t set firm goals and dates on my second novel but will get back into querying my first novel in mid-January.

    Good luck on your deadlines!

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  11. SO TRUE. Both Elton John and the “deadline” issue. I think deadlines are so much more serious sounding that resolutions: the word itself is dark and gloomy. Deadline- Dead line- A line which means a full stop, death, absolutely no postponement or procrastination. It brings to mind school projects and application hand-ins.

    I too shall work with deadlines this year, for you have inspired me! 😀

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    1. Happy to help SL.

      I like that definition of “full stop…and no procrastination,” but I think it needs to have a positive spin, too, since it is, da da da DA…AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!

      Best wishes in the coming year~

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  12. Um, deadlines, I’ve got a few of those looming in my New Year, but I’m looking forward to the challenges! I quit making resolutions years ago and just balance as I go. There is a lot less stress in that. 😉

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  13. i stopped making new year resolutions when i relised i dont really complete them,when i was kid…but this year,i am def. thinking of a few goals i would want to acieve…and all the best with your novel…im sure something v.good will happen to you on 1st feb(its a good day,my bday!),ill pray for it!!

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  14. Oh, yeah, deadlines–I’ve got ’em! Great post, Amanda–resolutions never worked for me. But deadlines…hmm, I don’t mind those. Of course, I say that now, when they’re still a few months away!

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