Deadlines: Helpful or Harmful to the Writing Process?

Deadlines- They have a way of creeping up on us. Even when we’re prepared fro them, somethings things happen and once again we’re scrambling to get things done in time.

Throughout high school college, and even now that my education is- for now- completed, I still have deadlines, both self-imposed deadlines and worked related ones as well. And as I’ve gotten older and somewhat better organized, I’ve been reflecting on deadlines and if I feel they are helpful or harmful. So before I go on to my list of Helpful vs. Harmful, I’m going to briefly talk about my personal stance a on deadlines and my experiences with them as well.

I would say that more times than not, I’ve found deadlines helpful to me. Without a specific deadline, I find that I don’t put nay time or effort into the project at hand. For me, no deadline equals no motivation and no motivation equals a project that will never get done. For example, while I was still freelancing I had a client who gave me a project with no specific deadline to it. Because of not having a specific deadline, I found myself pushing that project on the back burner in favor of projects that had deadlines and in my mind, were more important for that reason. Eventually that project ended because the contract expired and the client and I parted ways with no issues, but I had done nothing for the project, so therefore I was never paid for it- which I completely understood.

So when I have a deadline, I have motivation and a reason to work toward it. Its been the same with my personal writing. Now that I put into my planner to write at least 500 words each day, I haven’t missed a single day of writing and I always hit 500 words or more. I also find that if I write in my planner when I want to post my next blog post, I find myself putting in the time and effort to get the post done by that day. But that’s so easy to say when everything goes smoothly and nothing interferes with that plan. Recent health issues made some days harder than others to keep on track, but I pushed myself to do it because I didn’t want to let my goals get derailed by something out of my control. Writing my 500 words a day is within my control, it’s all on me whether I do it or not and I want to do, so that want is stronger than anything.

So at least for me, deadlines are extremely helpful. But I can see where they can be harmful. So here are my three reasons why deadlines are harmful:

  1. Deadlines put pressure on a person to complete a project even if they aren’t happy with the results or aren’t feeling creative at the time.
  2. Deadlines are rarely moved, so if something occurs like a accident, death, illness, or something else out of our control, you have to navigate around all of that to complete the project on time.
  3. If you’re working toward a deadline with a team and someone on the team doesn’t do their share, it throws all your meticulous planning out the window because now you have to pick up someone else’s slack.

And now here are my three reasons deadlines are helpful:

  1. Deadlines motivate a person to get the task done, meaning they will actually set aside time to work on the project.
  2. Deadlines give you a goal to work toward. By having something to work toward, you feel a sense of purpose you might not have otherwise had.
  3. Deadlines give you a reason to use colored pens or post its! I’m a visual person, so having my planner color coded is a HUGE help to me. This reason might not apply to everyone, but it works for me!

Deadlines will always exist and we will always have to deal with them. So my question to all of you is- Do you find deadlines helpful or harmful? Also, how do you deal with deadlines? Do you handle them well or not so well? I would love to hear your thoughts on deadlines!

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