Making Your Deadlines a Success-Generating Gift

Your words and ideas – once put down on the page – can go some amazing places.

Jen Adams here, and this week, we’ll be following the unlikely routes many holiday hits took on their way to success.

By Friday, you’ll have a full set of holiday trivia and stories to share … plus several new ideas about how you can bring about success in your own writer’s life, no matter where you are in your journey right now.

After all, you certainly can’t be in a worse spot than author O. Henry was in late December 1905.

He had a client, he had a deadline … but what he didn’t have was a finished project. Like many of us tend to do, he was procrastinating and letting all the distractions of the holiday season eat up his writing time.

How bad was the situation?

When his publisher sent the company illustrator over to O. Henry’s apartment to collect the story that had been promised, he hadn’t even written a single word!

It would have been easy for him to not do the work. After all, in most cases, the path of least resistance is to give up and say that you can’t.

But, if he’d simply given up, then we wouldn’t have the classic Christmas story known as The Gift of the Magi.

Instead, O. Henry decided to honor his commitment – even though it was going to require some intense, last-minute effort. He gave the illustrator an image to create and then wrote non-stop for three hours down at his favorite pub, Pete’s Tavern.

By sheer force of will, O. Henry pulled the story together – just in time for publication in the December 21st issue of New York World magazine. And it turned out to be one of the biggest hits of his career.

Now, I’m not saying that waiting until the last minute as he did is ever going to be your best plan. But for many writers, the pressure of a looming deadline is actually a great gift.

After all, it’s very easy to try and hold on to an idea until we feel it’s truly “ready” to be shared. And many of us have perfectionist tendencies – meaning we’ll hold onto things for a long, long time.

Sometimes, this means we miss out on great opportunities because we don’t have that “push” to get us moving.

But, you can’t become well-known … or even get paid … for the work that stays locked in your head.

So today, I’m encouraging you to start looking at your deadlines as friends and motivators, rather than seeing them as stress points. And, if there’s something you’ve been meaning to do in your career for a long time, put a deadline on it now.

Make your personal deadline stick by sharing your task and your due date with me in the comments. That way, we can celebrate together when you meet your goal.

And then, stay tuned – tomorrow, I’ll be sharing how some Christmas grumpiness worked out very well for one middle-aged copywriter …

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: December 22, 2014

10 Responses to “Making Your Deadlines a Success-Generating Gift”

  1. But I am exceptionally good at procrastinating. And locking up work in my head. Rats! It looks like I chose the wrong vices to perfect...

    CraigDecember 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

  2. Hi Jen, I agree, a deadline helps you prioritize, focus and produce. In a past life, to avoid stress, I once preferred to do research up front, but I find that's how I got distracted and wasted time on the unnecessary. RJP

    rjperryDecember 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm

  3. Hey Jen

    This has to the BEST SERIES yet by AWAI because I enjoy stories...

    ...and I have a PhD in procrastination! ;) I am glad prolific writers like O' Henry weren't immune to this 'health condition' :P

    Thank you for a beautiful story and a powerful message.. #HUGS

    Kitto

    PS: I have some momentous decisions to make, but the deadlines haven't been set yet. Can I come back and leave a comment? :-) Thanks!

    Guest (Krithika Rangarajan)December 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm

  4. Hello, my name is Julius Tate & I just read your latest short story about last minute delays combined with procrastenation. I thrive on a good challenge, I enjoy the pressure of trying to meet a deadline. I am a new member and I am ready to begin a brand new career in Creative Writing, Thanks,,,

    Guest (Julius Tate)December 23, 2014 at 7:34 am

  5. Thanks Jen for sharing this. I realize that it's a human behavior- procrastinating and letting all the distractions comes on our way, till we reach to deadline.

    I am no exception, sitting at my writing desk morning to mid-night to complete my two pending assignments.

    My real story as an Early Social Entrepreneur is given in the link for your kind review and feedback. www dot linkedin dot com/pulse/20141207061226-38982716-10-key-lessons-from-an-early-social-entrepreneur?trk=mp-reader-card

    JitendraDecember 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

  6. Hi Jen Adams,

    I`m working in a full time job(from 8am to 6pm) and I am doing AWAI`s Accelerated Program For Six Figures Copywriting Course. I`ve just started Part 2 and I want to start applying for paying jobs as from Sunday,28th December,2014. Do you think that will be possible? Please advice

    Hussein O.

    Hussein ODecember 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm

  7. Hi Jen- I recently became a member, and am getting ready to be with Nick Osbourn's How to write a money making website. That will go to the Spring and so, I feel that I am looking at the Summer as a part of my deadline. When I get there, can I send another e-mail or comment. Thank you, Julie D

    Guest (Julie D)December 26, 2014 at 7:36 pm

  8. procrastination! i think this is the worst monster of all vices for writer,cos it sure does do you more harm than anything else...
    for me what i do to overcome procrastination,is to create motivations,with incentives...

    InspireDecember 27, 2014 at 4:31 am


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)