I've been thinking a lot lately about deadlines and why I impose them on myself. It might sound silly to say I do. After all, I don't have an agent telling me to get the latest draft back to them by a certain date. Sadly, I don't have publishers filling up my inbox with requests to see the new book by next week because there's a big demand for it. Neither of those things are happening but still, I have deadlines.
About two months ago, I came up with a rough schedule to take me through to the first few months of next year. It went along the lines of finish book A by the end of April, finish the second draft of book B by the start of June, start outlining and working on C by mid-June - and have it finished by the end of August - and then take care of a couple of other bits over the following four months. It's not gone exactly to plan. May Day is on hold while the book I planned on starting round about now is already at 25k after a couple of weeks' work. Which is nice.
The change of plan isn't too big a deal. As long as the books get written, I'm happy. And as long as I meet my deadlines, it's all good. But why have them? I could take all the time I want to write the next book and the one after. It wouldn't make any differences to the publishers who don't know about me or my books. That's not the issue, though. To put it simply (and to probably sound a bit up my own arse), I treat this as a job. I can't turn up at my 9-5 when I feel like it any more than I can tell my boss that bit of work he asked me to finish by Friday will be done sometime the folllowing week. In the same way, writing is a job I can't just do whenever I feel like. Sometimes, I do it when I really don't feel like it. On the days the words won't come and the story is a bag of crap and I want to smack all my characters in the face, writing is the last thing in the world I want. But I do it because nobody else is going to tell my stories and nobody else is going to get them told by the deadline.