I like deadlines and goals. I know, crazy, but I really do. I'm the kind of person who works better when I feel that clock ticking, when I know I only have so much time to get something done. (Hey, editors out there, please take note. I'm just sayin'.) If I don't have a deadline, then I just put things off and actually work slower.
Usually I have no problem setting my own deadlines and pushing myself to reach them. I outline what I have to do, plan how much I need to accomplish each day, and follow my plan come rain or snow. Step by step, the work gets done. If I need a little extra push, I pick a reward I can have when the work is done. It's never anything huge—maybe taking myself out to lunch or a new pair of shoes. For getting an agent, it was an orange purse. And if I ever get a book deal, it'll be a real desk (I currently work at a card table, heh).
But lately, my writer self-esteem issues have been getting in the way of my goals. I've been ignoring my deadlines because sometimes it feels like accomplishing stuff isn't important like it used to be. Of course this feeling is false, but I feel it nonetheless. Funny how that works.
This is where punishment comes in. Oh, yes, punishment.
I ask my writer friends to give me deadlines and punishments for failure when I can't get my butt in gear. Kiersten told me I had to finish Transparent by a certain date or risk following Tweeters who consume your feed with endless and constant updates (no, I won't name names). Renee has finally warned me that if I don't finish reading her MS in the next two weeks I will be drawing her something (she knows how to punish, getting something else cool if I fail and all).
Not everyone works well with deadlines, but I highly recommend them, even if you don't have an agent or editor to give them. It's good practice, right? Finishing a novel isn't an easy thing no matter how many you've written or how long they are, and sometimes it's nice to have that extra push when things get tough.