Monday, February 15, 2016
I am a person driven by deadlines. Maybe it is because I've been a columnist for so long. Columnists simply can't miss deadlines or they won't be a columnist for long. Even before that though I think my way was to ignore a task until the pressure was licking at the back of my neck.
I wait until April 15 to do my taxes even when I think I'll be getting a refund. I simply don't want to face such an ugly chore until I absolutely have to. I turned in homework on the last day it was due, because I probably hadn't finished it until the night before. I usually only balanced my checkbook over concern about an overdraft. I wait until my car reminds me that its time to change the oil. I postpone appointments until my doctors are practically threatening me before I accede to a physical check up, a teeth cleaning or an eye exam.
Because I'm such a terrible procrastinator, I need deadlines to keep me on the straight and narrow and to keep my goals from floating around aimlessly as dreams.
As a columnist, my deadlines are presented to me by whatever newspaper I'm writing for. I currently write a column for the Logansport Pharos-Tribune (approximately 650 words) every Sunday without fail. It has to be at the paper by Monday. Thank God, for the internet to send it to its destination within minutes unlike back in the day, when I depended on the postal service and delivery could vary by a day or two. The internet allows me to procrastinate a while longer.
I've learned to impose other deadlines on myself and to see them as inviolable. I try to update my three blogs every week (somewhere between 500 and 1000 words each) and I mostly stick to it. In the case of blogs, your readers are really your deadline determiners. If they expect to see a new post regularly and they don't, they'll stop dropping by. You have to keep them satisfied if you expect to maintain their loyalty.
With long fiction manuscripts, I have to make bargains with myself. "You cannot light another cigarette until you finish this page." Or, "you cannot get dressed and go to the store until you complete this chapter." My goal is usually to finish a novel in three months. I don't always exactly make it but I usually come close. I fell way behind when my son died and my inspiration seemed at first to die with him but I seem to be getting back on track now.
I think I manage my writing deadlines pretty well but the ones I set for myself regarding marketing are abysmally ineffective. I don't like marketing. In fact, I don't really like to think about books at all once they are published. The fun part is done and I want to move on to writing some new exciting thing - new characters, new locations, new plot lines.
So my poor books tend to wither on the vine of non-publicity. My dream for 2016 is to put more time and energy into marketing. So far, it remains a dream and not a goal.