Deadlines. Do you love them or hate them? Or, like, me, do you find them a bit of a mixed blessing? However you may feel about them, I think they are invaluable and I could not run a business nor write a book without them.
I just got a message from my friend Karine via Facebook. She came on my Release the Book Within workshop a couple of years ago and back then she was determined to write her book during her next overseas assignment to the Far East. She came back to the Hague a couple of months ago and today I got this message from her.
“Have you thought of doing supervising workshops where you would keep people like me, who try to escape their writing ‘duties’, tied to their chair under your professional tuition and supervision?”
Her message got me thinking. Firstly, I wondered if there might be a market for ‘supervised writing sessions’, where students are forced to write, in silence, in exam circumstances, while I pace up and down between the desks and frown in the direction of their papers. Perhaps not. Though, I realise that while that could be a solution for many a procrastinating writer, it’s not the way I do it myself.
I like to set my own deadlines and make myself accountable for failing to meet them. I don’t like someone else to set them for me. I like to do it myself. And this is how . . .
In the last ten years or so I have written a book a year on average. Each time I have set my own deadline. I have looked at my calendar nine months hence and identified a conference or event where I could speak and that could be a suitable place to launch that book. During this decade I have launched books at the Women on the Move, Women’s International Networking andFamilies in Global Transition conferences. I always submitted a speaker proposal for a workshop or keynote on a topic similar to my Work in Progress (WIP) and added details of the book launch in my bio for the program when they accepted. Lucky for me they did, eh?
Next, I would calculate back from that launch date, allowing one month for production, one for design and proofread and one for editing. Now I had no choice but to write the book in the six months that remained. So, I would divide up the chapters between those six months and ensure that my writing work came first. It would be the first thing I did at the start of each week or the start of each day and I would not allow myself to check my emails more than once until the Shitty First Draft (that’s Anne Lamott’s phrase not mine) was complete. I’d save the polishing and editing until I reached the very end of the book and the month allocated for that task.
So far, without exceptions, I have met every deadline and cracked on with my WIP.
As you know, I also mentor people to help them meet their deadlines and am available at any time to answer their questions along the way. I have several clients with books planned for launch at the next WIN (it’s in Paris) and FIGT (it’s in Washington DC) and this year Simone Costa Eriksson and Natalie Tollenaere were at FIGT with me launching Moving Abroad: The Mission of Detective Mike and the Art of Possibilities.
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