By: Lisa Edwards
We’ve all had those writing assignments that are due “as soon as possible,” “sometime next week,” “as quickly as possible,” “whenever you can get to it,” etc. The problem with not having a set deadline is that it often causes writers to put a project out of their mind until the client asks, “How’s that article coming?” Or, “Do you think you could get that piece to me by the end of the day?”
If you knew the article was due by the end of the day, you probably would have started it right away. But you didn’t, and so now you’re stuck rushing to finish while pushing all of your other projects aside. Sound familiar? It does for me, and unfortunately, it happens on a regular basis.
Because I’ve been in the situation above more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve recently started taking control of my writing schedule.
- If I’m given an assignment without a deadline, I’ll ask for one.
- If the client still doesn’t commit to a precise time that they need it by, then I’ll create my own.
This way, I can better plan my writing time. I work a full-time job and write in my “free” time, so if I don’t have deadlines and a set writing schedule, things can get out of hand pretty quickly.
Write Them Down
But it’s not enough just to tell yourself that you need to finish writing a project by a specified date and time. Writing your deadlines down on a calendar or a to-do list makes it “real.” By visualizing your schedule, it will give you a better idea of how to plan your day.
Maybe you’ll even forget that it wasn’t a real deadline to begin with, but probably not. You’ll just have to remind yourself that to get all your other projects done on time; you need to commit to this deadline that you’ve given yourself. It’s a hard concept to adhere to, but you’ll get used to it eventually.
Create a Writing Schedule
As with deadlines, not having a set schedule where you’re required to be at your desk writing can leave you vulnerable to dilly-dallying. I’ve become very skilled at this myself. After all, it’s my “free” time, so I can spend it as I wish, right? Yes, of course, I can. However, if I’ve committed to writing a certain amount of blogs during my “free” time, then some of that time is no longer “free,” and I have to decide when that is ahead of time.
Try to set specific time slots to keep yourself accountable. Instead of saying, “I’ll write for a couple of hours after I get home from work,” try to be more precise, and say, “I’ll write from 6-8pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 8-10pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.” Just as it is important to set specific times for writing, it is also important to decide when to take time off for yourself.
Know Your Peak Writing Times
Personally, I know I’m not a morning person, so I’m not going to say I’ll get up at 5 or 6 am to write. It’s just not going to happen. I used to write sometimes on my lunch break, but then I would be stressed out because I never really got a break from my work day. I know I do my best work at night, and so I carve out time before and after dinner to get some writing done. If I have to stay up late here and there, I know I can commit to that more easily than getting up early.
Okay, so this is much easier said than done, but it can be done; I promise. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything floating around on the Internet, but it can steal all of your time, and hours will go by, and you won’t have a single word written. Whenever I find myself drifting into the abyss of the Internet, I will close whatever tab I’m looking at and try to refocus on the task at hand.
All the articles and cat videos will still be there when you’re done writing that article. Tune