It’s important for every writer to have goals and deadlines, know the difference between the two, and balance themselves over long and short-term assignments. It may be difficult at first to discipline yourself enough to meet said goals and deadlines, but if you’re writing every day, you should have no problem meeting those dates.

Goals and deadlines differ in one basic, essential manner: goals are tasks you would like to get done by a certain date; deadlines are tasks you have to get done by a certain date. Distinguishing between the two will help you understand the importance ranking of each task on your list. Set a “deadline date” for each item you have to complete. This will allow you to see when your assignments absolutely have to be finished.

CalendarAfter you’ve set your deadline dates, go through and set realistic “goal dates” that fall before each deadline. Having an earlier, yet less impending, date may help you feel less anxious or nervous about your projects. Reward yourself if you complete them before the goal date; penalize yourself if you miss the deadline date.

Learning to be your own manager and editor will put your strides ahead of the game. Many people have a hard time with this aspect of self-regulation, but don’t be afraid to be a hard-ass. It may feel strange at first, but the more you learn to be true to yourself and your time, the better you will become at meeting goals and deadlines.

Many editors and managers will be impressed with your time management skills. They look for writers who can be honest with their skills and abilities and who can stay true to timelines set for them. This trait will make you and your writing more attractive to the publishing market, but don’t fudge your numbers when presenting your work either. If you missed your deadline of three months and got your work done in four month, it took you four months, not three.

The last important thing to know about goals and deadlines is to spread them out. Have short-term and long-term dates set. It may seem obvious, but give easier, smaller tasks earlier dates, while allowing more time for larger, more difficult projects. Being able to cross things off your list quickly and efficiently can help you feel accomplished and productive and this in turn may motivate you to reach your other goals and deadlines.

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