Wednesday, March 9, 2011
3 Ways Deadlines Make You Stronger
I worked for an accountant for many years, and in so doing, I learned the importance of meeting a deadline. The Internal Revenue Service frowns on late payments, so much so that they fine you not only interest on monies owed, but they also tack on hefty penalties. April 15th is a deadline stamped upon every taxpayer's mind in the U.S. Working in an accounting office, I noticed a pattern with some people. Some always waited until the week before. Some brought their information in months ahead of time. And there were others who filed extensions, which wasn't an extension of payment, but only of the paper work. The money was still owed and interest and penalties were still charged. Harsh, yes, but that's the rule.
Though deadlines are a little different in the publishing world, I still look at them with my accounting lens because I have realized--deadlines make me stronger. I built up some good deadline muscles while accounting, but I've had to redefine them for writing. And it doesn't matter if your published or not. Developing good deadline muscles will help you become more confident, build trust, and earn respect.
Having confidence in yourself is something you build over time. For me, confidence to meet a deadline comes with making goals and accomplishing them in a timely manner. That sounds sort of stuffy, but it's true. My critique group used to make weekly goals and there were always a couple of people who, week after week, never accomplished them. Either writing wasn't a priority for them, or they felt making goals was a joke. But making goals and keeping them can teach discipline, give direction, and help develop confidence. I know because it did for me.
Meeting a deadline is a trust issue between you and your publisher. You want them to know they can count on you, and that no matter what is going on in life you will deliver to them a quality book at the time agreed upon. Life has a way of throwing major obstacles in your path. Believe me, I understand. Seems as soon as I have a deadline to meet all of a sudden my family needs me or the dog gets sick, or I find a major flaw in my novel that ripples throughout the entire story, which means a big rewrite. You name it, it's probably happened to me and always just before a deadline. How did I learn to cope? First I prayed for help. Next I did triage on my family and dog. And then, I put my head down and closed my office door to work. I wanted my editor to trust me and know that I'd do whatever it takes to meet a deadline. But trust is also about letting your editor know when you're going through a rough time (like a death in the family or emergency surgery). Editors understand such things and will do what they can to accommodate you because they trust you.
At another place where I worked for a short time some employees were always whining that the boss didn't respect them. They were fairly young and really didn't know the secret to respect. And they certainly wouldn't listen to me, the old lady. But I'll share with you how I think a person receives respect because it really isn't a secret. In fact, when you think about it, it's really common sense. Respect comes after you've proven yourself. It comes when despite major obstacles in your path you do what's expected and more. Respect comes when you listen. Respect comes when you act with integrity and honor. Respect comes to those who are confident and can be trusted. But most importantly...respect is earned not given.
Meeting deadlines will make you stronger. Developing confidence, building trust, and earning respect can give you muscle to help you achieve your writing goals.
I know I've left off something. I'd love to hear how you think meeting deadlines could make you stronger.
Posted by Kathi Oram Peterson at 7:19 AM