Most of us need some sort of deadline to help us get our creations out onto the runway, not perfect but with some threads still hanging. For me, breaking the task into small bits and using a timer for each bit works wonders. Here’s what works for guest blogger Susan Daffron, who has completed 12 books and runs an annual conference for self-published authors at which I will be speaking on May 10th.


Can’t Meet Deadlines? Go Out and Find One!

Have you ever noticed how much work you can finish right before are scheduled to go on vacation? Or how you always manage to meet deadlines for your clients, while your own projects languish?

Many writers can be extremely productive under duress. But your writing may be slow or nonexistent when there’s a lot of time. Work has a tendency to expand to fit the time allowed.

I’m the author of 12 books and the secret to my productivity is setting up external deadlines. My conscientious nature trumps my native sloth. I never miss deadlines, so I use that trait to my advantage.

Get Thee a Deadline

A lot of my books started out as articles. I created deadlines for myself by going to the local newspaper and asking if they would like a free column. Like most small rags, they were desperate for content. And free is a price everyone likes.

Every week for years, I wrote the column. Eventually, I switched newspapers, and then I started up my own online newsletters. Knowing that people were expecting my writing to appear every Friday forced me to write something.

Create a Habit

When you do something often enough, it becomes a habit. Finally, after many years of external deadlines, I can sit down and write almost whenever I feel like it. That’s because I was forced to do exactly that for so many years. Having an editor waiting for my column every week was compelling, at least for me.

It also helped me realize that everything I write doesn’t have to be a work of art. Even though every article wasn’t perfect, it was done. Setting up external deadlines helped shut up my inner perfectionist.

Writer Know Thyself

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who can create “fake” deadlines. Timers make me cringe and “pretending” something is due doesn’t work for me. And the reason I know my next book is going to be finished by August? Because I’m speaking at a conference. An external deadlines strikes again!

Rachel told me that setting external deadlines is really just “capitalizing on human nature instead of fighting it and yourself.”

I completely agree!

If you’d like to learn more about the business of writing and book publishing, get inspiration and advice at the Self-Publishers Online Conference. The third annual event is May 10-12, 2011 ( The ProNagger is speaking on May 10. Don’t miss it! Use the code ProNagger11 and get 10% off your registration.


Susan Daffron, aka The Book Consultant ( owns a book and software publishing company. She spends most of her time writing, laying out books in InDesign, or taking her five dogs out for romps in the forest. She also teaches people how to write and publish profitable client-attracting books and puts on the Self-Publishers Online conference ( every May.