Writing as a second job doesn’t work without deadlines.
There are so many other factors in life that conspire to distract us, that we need some kind of tangible goal to keep us moving. “I’ll have half the book revised by the end of the month” or “I’ll write ten flash fiction stories this quarter.” In my case it’s, “I’m going to self publish my non-fiction project by the end of October.”
Six months was always a tight goal, one that required a lot more extra-curricular effort than my typical fiction project. Still setting these kinds of goals are what makes us better as a writer, forces us to find new resources from without and within. Whether it’s a blog post, or a book, having a set time where you hit “publish” is a surprisingly good motivator.
It doesn’t feel good when you move that goal, after having shot for it for so many months. But sometimes it’s necessary to take that extra beat to put out the product you really want.
Sometimes a blog post doesn’t work the day I’m writing it, and I kick the idea down the road a day or two. Sometimes life knocks you down with a cold that kills a week of work, or sometimes you just know something is not ready yet. It’s close, but not quite.
It might be tempting to try to force it, to cram every last bit of effort into just getting it out the door. But as we all know, creative work, even creative non-fiction, is something that can’t be forced. There’s working hard toward achieving a goal, and then there’s settling for something lesser.
I don’t think you should move a goal too far, especially if you’re close. It doesn’t make sense to add three months to a six month project, when two weeks might just do the trick. If there’s a momentum that’s carried you this far, there’s no reason to try to slow it down.
But sometimes it’s okay to wait for the next round, to give yourself permission to take the time you need. Especially if you’re self-publishing, your deadlines are your own, intended to motivate you and move you forward, but not to bog you down and take the fun out of it.
When have you had to move a goal? Has the final product benefited from it?