Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do You Work Better On a Deadline?

The Knight's Dream - Antonio de Pereda
I must confess that I don't really like deadlines. I wrote two novels without a deadline, I wrote them pretty quickly, and while I understand they work for some people, deadlines mostly serve to stress me out.

But I may be a rare bird. Do you like deadlines? Do you need deadlines? Do you work better when you have one?






63 comments:

Hart Johnson said...

I work really well with self-imposed deadlines--NaNo, or 'by ABNA, or 'finish this to participate in that' but I'm finding deadlines for a publisher stress my creativity a little.

Noelle Pierce said...

Without a deadline, I get distracted by all sorts of---SQUIRREL!

I have a lot of interests, so prioritizing one over another gets complicated. Having a deadline imposed by someone else is a way to help me prioritize. Then again, I have very little will power, so that might be a factor. :D

Heather Kelly said...

I need accountability.

Accountability that I am balancing writing into my life, and that I keep moving forward.

Most of the time it is other writers (or the idea of other readers) and not a deadline that gives me this.

But I suppose a deadline could serve as well.

Caroline said...

I like deadlines in my work life, but not in my writing life. It makes me dread writing to be honest, so I'm too the point where I think I am ready to embrace the fact that I should just write when I want to and not worry!

Jessica Bell said...

I ditto Caroline. Need them for work, definitely, otherwise my writing would get done first :o)

Emily White said...

I need deadlines to get things accomplished in a timely manner, but they still stress me out. I guess it's a good stress, in a way.

virg_nelson said...

I don't think I have ever worked without a deadline. Most of them have largely been created by myself... but as Noelle said, I have a lot of interests and am easily distracted.

I think the deadline makes me see the red blinking lights and hear alarm bells in my head where having an open and unrestricted timeframe would allow me to stall forever.

Procrastinators of the world, UNITE!

You know... next week. Or sometime around then. No rush.

abc said...

I DON'T LIKE DEADLINES. but I think I work better with them. damnit.

J. Anne said...

I don't really like deadlines but since the thought of missing one makes me ill, they do make me productive! :)

Tere Kirkland said...

Deadlines give me an additional goal to work toward, and help me spend my time writing or editing more wisely. Self imposed ones don't work quite as well...

Matthew MacNish said...

I have no idea, never had one. But I think I can safely assume it will stress me out if I ever do.

Lyne said...

I totally work better with a deadline. I function better with the stress brought on by procrastination. Or so I tell myself.

Gryvon said...

I need deadlines. Without a deadline, something isn't a priority. There's no date by which it must be done so all the things with due dates keep preempting it. I can set my own dates for when I want things done but otherwise, if there's no date set, it's probably not getting done for a while.

Demisty said...

Deadlines are good. Love it when I have them. But if it's something I want to write, it's going to get written no matter what.

Mira said...

I'm like you, Nathan, I don't like writing creatively to a hard and fast deadline. I can freeze up, or get anxious or blocked. My muse works best when it can stretch out and relax and there are no demands.

I also have a difficult time judging the quality of my work quickly. I need time and space to get perspective.

However, as an exception, I will say that I can write non-fiction to a deadline, although I still need time to judge the quality of my work. But I think non-fiction uses a different part of the brain, and that part of my brain functions under pressure. But my creative mind does function at it's best under time line pressure.

Mira said...

Correction:

But my creative mind does NOT function at its best under time pressure.

Julie Nilson said...

Deadlines are one of the many reasons that I'm in a critique group--knowing that it's my turn to submit helps me keep plugging away at my manuscript.

midnightblooms said...

I need accountability, and it needs to be soon (like yesterday) because otherwise I get...oh, bunny pictures!

Mr. D said...

Deadline schmedline. Write the darn book!

janesadek said...

Deadlines help me set priorities, but they don't enhance my work.

Rachel Neumeier said...

I prefer self-imposed "soft" deadlines. Those deadlines keep me moving and I usually come fairly close to meeting them, with minimal stress.

But a publisher-imposed "hard" deadline, though it makes me tense, definitely makes me work harder and more consistently.

I don't think I've ever worked on a book without at least a soft deadline in mind -- at least not after selling my first book. It takes some kind of deadline to make me take writing seriously.

Karen Doniere said...

Unfortunately, I do not like deadlines because I think they cause undue stress. But, I work better knowing that I have a deadline to meet. I usually just create a self imposed deadline, meet it, and move on. Thanks for sharing.

Rick Daley said...

I'm split. I can work under pressure, and deadlines are sometimes necessary given my awesome powers of procrastination, but I think my best writing to date was composed when I was totally unrestricted.

WORD VERIFICATION: rodedobi. A western bonanza with horses, cowboys, and Malfoy's house-Elf.

salima said...

Yes, actually. I write well under deadlines. Art/illustrating is a different story; for that I prefer all the time I can get.

tekia said...

I don't like deadlines unless they're my personal deadlines. This is because I consider myself a self-starter and therefore have no need for someone else to tell me/push me to get work done. I know how I operate, plus, I like to leave some leeway time in case something happens that slows productivity. Though deadlines are good for getting people motivated it can stress others out, especially if productivity is being slow for lack of inspiration. So, if I'm going to be under a deadline, I much rather it be a deadline set by me than that set by someone else.

Elanor Lawrence said...

I've never had a real deadline, unless you count nano, so I really wouldnt know. However, I do tend to produce a lot more work when I have self-imposed deadlines, or at least a minimum daily word count. The only problem with just worrying about the words, though, is that you can tend to forget about the story. I was doing my own version of nano this past may, and I ended up writing 20k then cutting the last 10k bc they were useless. So, foccusing just on word count can be a really bad thing.

But... I'm not exactly talking about deadlines anymore. And basically, my answer to your question is that I really don't know yet.

Kaitlin said...

Deadlines are a bit of a love-hate relationship with me. They stress me out, but I'm a tinkerer by heart, and I need something to make me stop and finish the piece.

Self-made deadlines only work for me if I've got someone else keeping me to it.

Vera Soroka said...

Sort of but I would prefer not to have one. I guess if I was to be published I would be introduced to Mr. Deadline.

Isabella Amaris said...

I loathe deadlines. Absolutely loathe them. Detest them. Dislike them. I suppose it can't get any clearer than that:) When I'm faced with one, I invariably procrastinate until the last possible minute to get down to business... which didn't help me at all this week when the space bar on my keyboard gave out, followed by my printer (literally, with a bang)... that too, a mere hour before the deadline for submission of an essay! Ah, if only I'd paid more mind to that darn deadline...:)

Prudence Breitrose said...

Without a deadline I tell myself that my brain goes away by 10.30 in the morning (which may explain why it took me eight years to crank out my first book). With an editor-imposed deadline for revisions, the brain seems to function all day, and much of the night.

Robena Grant said...

I work better under pressure, otherwise my head is in the clouds, or I play too much. So self-imposed deadlines and goals work.

Katherine Hyde said...

In my day job, I like to have deadlines so I know how to prioritize my tasks. In writing, I've only had self-imposed deadlines. I do this only when I'm feeling stuck and need to motivate myself to get going. In general, I prefer to let things flow at a natural pace. I expect when I do have publisher deadlines I will hate them passionately. Stress and creativity, in my experience, are antithetical.

Maya said...

Never had one so I don't know for sure. I think it would be really hard though. Yes, I can write a bunch of drivel but for true inspiration and creativity, I need time.

bekatinsley said...

I think I work a lot better with a deadline. I've learned from doing Nano this year that tons of pressure is my best motivator!

Maybe I thrive on stress. :D

SBJones said...

Deadlines are a motivator. It's easy to become distracted and skip a day or five on your work in progress. But I find that it gets done a lot easier and quicker knowing I have a deadline to meet.

Erick Pettersen said...

Yes, I work better with a deadline. Perhaps, those of us writers who work better with deadlines could be called Clutch Writers. You know, those writers, who like Kobe Bryant can pull up to hit a three pointer over the triple team in the last five seconds of the game.

It is not that we are procrastinators; it is that we sometimes work better when we work against the clock. It makes our work and the down time between projects seem more valuable.

Of course, there is something to be said for pacing one's self.

Erick

Cora said...

Hate deadlines. I want all the time I can get to tinker, refine, procrastinate, daydream, etc., until someone or something says, "Times up." But we were talking about what works better, umm, deadline.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I completely collapse creatively under a deadline. I tend to keep myself going at a steady pace without the pressure.

D.G. Hudson said...

I prefer a deadline or a target date to aim for. Meeting deadlines, and being able to deliver your product are important abilities to have in today's world.

Stressful or motivating? It depends on the request and the time limit.

Becca Lathorn said...

No, I don't work with deadlines. Deadlines suck. But with a set word count every day like in NaNo, it really forces me to put more UMPH! in my writing for whatever reason.

Surfer Dawn said...

No, I don't work better, but I WORK. That's the big difference! ;-) My deadlines are mostly self-imposed, but as I gear up to write as a blogger for a new tourism website, Baja.com, I am beginning to see how the stress of deadlines can actually stymie creativity.

wendy said...

So you're working on Jacob W number 3? Omg, I'm way behind obtaining the previous 2. I must pester the local librarian to pick up some copies. The local kids would love to read these stories, I'm sure.

I think I'd work better with a deadline. It would inspire and rev up the creative engine. I tend to aimlessly rewrite for years - even decades - if left to my own volition. A fantasy novel I started 30 years ago still lies incomplete on ancient floppy drives, although the time I spent on it was epic. Another novel started about 11-12 years ago is finished, story-wise, but I'm still
re-inventing and struggling with syntax. Must take myself in hand and build up some self-belief. I think these are the reasons I've floundered. If I could envision the end of the road even without a deadline perhaps the journey will finally be over.

wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jess said...

I need deadlines. They take the stress off for me. If I don't have them, I skip around the maypole as if I have all the time in the world, and I accomplish nothing. For me, a deadline is that light at the end of the tunnel.

Claire Dawn said...

love-hate

I need them or I don't work. But I often put off stuff until two minutes before deadline and then have to run through it screaming like my hair's on fire.

very worried about the day I have real hard and fast publishing deadlines.

Nancy Thompson said...

It's the one thing that terrifies me about possibly getting published someday, being under a deadline. In my regular profession, interior design, deadlines are fine, but with writing, well, that scares the heck out of me.

TeresaR said...

I'm pathetic, so yes, I need a deadline (and one set by an external presence) to get anything done.

TeresaR said...

Reminds me of the Douglas Adams quote: I love deadlines; I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Kevin said...

I've never actually had to write on a deadline... yet. I can imagine that changing in the near future though.

Truthfully, though, I think that a deadline would slow me down. The preasure increases my anxiety level, which, in turn clouds my thinking. I think a dealine would hender me greatly...

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm totally a procrastinator, which is why I read Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner in one day back when I was in graduate school. (And at the end of that day, I was ready to throw the book across the room, even though it was a good story.) I need deadlines, because I work better under pressure. Otherwise I'll just keep putting off the work.

Jen said...

Oh, oh, Noelle! I see the squirrel!
*runs across yard giggling and chasing small fuzzy critter*

I seriously need a deadline. I can't even work with a self-imposed one, because however much I try to sound stern, I know it's self-imposed and I can break it and there will be no consequences. But if someone else gives me a deadline - a crit partner or editor, then it's nose to the grindstone until I'm done.

Without a deadline I'll chase squirrels forever.

February Grace said...

You know what Douglas said about deadlines...

I usually don't need them- I've been the kid who got their homework done ahead of time all my life. But lately it doesn't matter who sets the deadline, my brain seems to have other plans. Am working through it.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the 'whooshing' noise, and smirking, thinking of Douglas.

Rock on, Jedi Master, I hope your holiday season is shaping up to be bright.

jenniecoughlin said...

After 15 years in print journalism, I find I have difficulty working without a deadline. Otherwise I fall prey to too many BSOs (Big, shiny...ooooh!) instead of actually working. I do, however, adjust my self-imposed ones as needed when work or something else blows up and makes keeping the original ones I set impossible.

Debbie Ouellet said...

Absolutely. Deadlines are my friends.

I have a lazy muse, so deadlines give her the kick in the butt she needs to keep me going.

Debbie

Krista V. said...

I'm enough of a self-starter that I don't really need deadlines to motivate me. So I imagine that, if I ever have them someday, they'll only serve to make me nervous.

Michelle Gardner said...

"The ultimate inspiration is the deadline" is inscribed on a paperweight that sits next to my keyboard. While I don't wait until absolute deadline to get started on a project, having one does help me focus better on the piece.

Daniel McNeet said...

Nathan,

Stress will kill you and deadlines are stressful, particularly if your cup is empty or filling slowly. I am fortunate. I have deadlines which are easy to meet which makes my publisher and me happy and responsible.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I do like having deadlines, as long as they are reasonable. Without them, it can be a bit hard for me to get started on big writing projects and similar things. Of course, so far all of my writing deadlines have been self-imposed. But even with school or work, I've thrived with deadlines, so I'm hoping that will transfer over to publisher deadlines someday, too,

Sean F. Roney said...

Deadlines are helpful in all stages of a book's production. Most people will put things off, even those who aren't hardcore procrastinators, so tight deadlines are needed. I know I do better with tight deadlines.

Anonymous said...

If I'm under a lot of stress, then I can't write - like, at all.

To get into a good rhythm, I need boredom almost. The less I have going on, the easier it is for me to write.

I said to another writer guy one time: in order to speed up, one needs to slow down.

He had no idea what I was talking about. Par for the course, really.

How's the Wonderbar series going, Nate? Are you a billionaire yet? Me, I'm about to finish my fifth novel, so I might be a millionaire soon. Do ever get called that - Nate? You don't mind if I call you Nate, do you?

Alex Beecroft said...

I prefer not to have deadlines as they stress me out. If I do have a deadline, I'll drop everything else and work on the piece with a deadline exclusively, aiming to get it finished months in advance so that I can relax again. So having a deadline throws everything else in my life out of whack.

Nathan Jendrick said...

I absolutely hate deadlines, but they do work quite well for me. I don't "need" them, exactly, but because I'm insistent on not needing extensions, I do well to stick to them.

Colt_x_45 said...

I'm procrastinating right now, even with a deadline. Unless i'm right up against it i get distracted by the simplest of things. I tried to set self imposed deadlines but they never seem to work. :( idk what it is about me but i like the pressure of being right against the wall.

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