Let's be honest: we all have a love/hate relationship with deadlines.
On one hand, deadlines are big, awful, scary things. Like running late for an interview, deadlines can cause untold amounts of stress and anxiety. I have to get this done! I'm falling behind! I'm not going to make it!
Deadlines are the reason college students pull all-nighters and 8 hour days turn into 12 hour days. They cause stress.
They also "cause" focus.
When you have a deadline, you don't forget about that project. You don't sit down and watch three hours of Antiques Roadshow. You don't go on a leisurely Sunday drive. You work.
And that can be exciting. My latest (and greatest) version of my book The Talented was finished on the deadline for this year's ABNA. My work on The Bodyguard is on a deadline so that I can start releasing it as a serialized novel June 16th.
My recent surge of job applications forced me to focus on my goals and philosophies as a teacher.
Deadlines are big, awful, scary things that result in focus and hard work.
I don't know that there is any single thing more important than that. Not if you want to be a serious writer. Or really, a serious anything.
Deadlines provide an impetus for action. That impetus is especially important when the action is for something secondary in your life. If you write for a living, you are going to keep working on that next novel because that's your job. When you write for a hobby or a sideline, there needs to be something more. Something that makes you work.
And that is what deadlines do.
So find a way to give yourself a deadline. Find a writing buddy or critique partner who expects 5,000 new words a week, and if you don't deliver you owe them $5 (or a beer). Enter a contest. Set yourself a goal that, if reached, will result in some sort of reward. If I finish this draft by July 1st, I get to buy a new pair of shoes.
Trust me, a deadline can make all the difference.
And since I only have hours left on my Kickstarter campaign, that is giving me a strict deadline on asking for last minute donations. As I write this I am sitting at 91%. I invite everyone to throw me a couple bucks or share the following on Twitter or Facebook: Only hours left to raise funds for The Talented by J.R. McGinnity via Kickstarter. http://buff.ly/1jMpIOT