Schedules and Deadlines are My Superpower


My day job pretty much ensures that I’m an expert on deadlines and schedules. I teach fifth grade, and everything is either part of a schedule or a deadline for myself or my students. For example, I need to make sure I finish teaching multiplication and division of fractions before spring break (deadline: me), or my students need enough time to finish writing their research-based argument essay by March 16 (deadline: them, schedule: me).


So it will be no surprise to you that I apply that same logic to my writing life. Everything that needs to be done gets a time slot. And everything – big or small – gets a deadline. My writing schedule is pretty rigid: I write Monday through Friday, from 4:00 – 6:00 in the morning. That time slot is strictly for new work. Either drafting or revising or brainstorming my next book. I don’t allow anything to infringe on those two hours.


Then I get my kids ready for school and we all go off and have our day. We usually get home around 4:00, and these days I try to spend an hour on some kind of promotion for The Ones We Choose. Those tasks might vary –I might write a blog post, or answer interview questions, or try to connect with reviewers on Instagram or Facebook. Regardless, that hour is dedicated to promotion and publicity of the book that already exists. I usually try to be done by 5:00 so I can have some dedicated downtime, but often, I will need to read through the work I did that morning on the new book so that I have a clear plan for what I need to do the following morning when my alarm blares at 3:45.


Alongside this schedule, I’m always assigning deadlines to myself. Right now, I’d like to have the current POV I’m drafting for my new book to be polished enough to send it to my critique partner by this Sunday (I’ve been working on it for nearly three weeks, and yes, I’m right on schedule), and then I’d like to take another 3 weeks to figure out how I want to rewrite the second POV while she reads the first.


This is just how my brain works. Once I know what the task is (revision, drafting, editing, copy edits, promotion, etc.) I automatically start planning my schedule. Assigning time slots and deadlines. The only downside is that I can be pretty rigid about how I spend my non-writing time. I hoard my free hours, and have to force myself to give some of them up in the name of maintaining friendships and being social. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about schedules and deadlines, and I’m very good at those!


The Ones We Choose is available for preorder!


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Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

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