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I have been a procrastinator my ENTIRE life. Like, the whole entire thing.

I’ve waited until 3am to START papers, woken up at 4am to transcribe and write articles due at 9am, waited until a week before a trip to purchase plane tickets–if there’s something to procrastinate on, I’ve done it. And at the very last possible minute.

Being a procrastinator means I’ve gotten into some pretty hectic situations (i.e. still pulling all nighters at Thirty-Effing-Three!), but I’ve also picked up a jillion ninja coping skills and probably knocked a few years off of my life.

The most valuable thing I’ve learned throughout my years of of living in Procrastin Nation is that HAVING A DEADLINE is absolutely essential.

Seriously.

Listen, I hate deadlines. I abhor them. They make me nervous. They make my procrastination flare up in the worse way. And they make me itch. But deadlines are THE ONLY thing that helps me function as a freelance writer and business owner.

Give me a deadline and I’m all over it (albeit at the last minute), but tell me to just work on something and get back to you? It’s not going to happen. EVER.

Case in point: writing a novel.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve talked about writing a book, but I know it’s been a lot. I went to school for it, I’ve blogged about it, told my friends about it, told myself it HAD to get done, wrote chapters, and then…..NOTHING. Zip. Zilch. Not even a draft.

No book, no conversation about a book. The whole idea just fell into the bowels of Black History never to be spoken of again.

Until recently.

Back in August I started mulling around the idea of writing a novel again, and in September I gave myself a 30 day deadline to churn it out.  I had to get it done  by September 30th (and I told my crew about it, so I couldn’t punk out) or else I’d let myself all the way down and look like Boo Boo the Fool in the process.

Then I hammered out an actual writing schedule and committed to writing at that time (for me at least 7:30am-9) every single day.

You know what happened?

I FINISHED THE BOOK!

Turn It Loose, a novella

Ain’t it pretty?

Boom! Just like that.

For the first time since declaring myself a writer (when I was like 8) and attempting to pen stories, I finally, finally finished one. And I love it. And it’ll be for sale next week! And you better buy it, sucka please?

This entire process–plotting the book out, sitting down to write, designing my own cover–has merely reenforced what I already knew:

DEADLINES MATTER, and when you use them, you get ish done.

The trick is picking a realistic deadline and putting your goal ON BLAST for folks to keep track of. Believe me, if you say you’re going to do X by such-and-such date and you tell 10 people about it, SOMEONE is bound to check in to see if you actually got it done.

Sure, you can hem and haw about “life” getting in the way, but seriously, if you want it bad enough you’ll get it done–even if life starts kicking your arse like you owe it money.

We’re rounding the corner on 2013, and I know it’s tempting to wait until January to kick off your next round of goal-making, but why put it off for three months?

I have a challenge for you:

  • Pick ONE goal
  • Set a deadline (like, by Thanksgiving?),
  • Tell 10 people about what you’re going to do
  • Do it – or risk public humiliation (or at least a bunch of, “How’s that thing coming?” questions that will annoy the ish out of you.)

Do you accept? 

If you’re down to get ‘er done…leave a comment below and let me know what you’d like to accomplish in the next 30/60/whatever days. Deal?

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