I've been using a new system for the past month in terms of due dates for writing that ,so far, is working out quite well.
Typically what happens is that I have an assignment with a due date. I might ponder the general bent I plan on taking with the article, but I wouldn't start writing the article until the week before it was due. This leaves just enough time to write the piece, but no time to let it sit and digest so I can return to it later with fresh eyes.
I went to Office Depot (I love Office Depot--it's an anal-retentive's dream come true) and bought a large wall calendar. I went through and circled in red the days of each month I know I have articles due. Then I backtracked, setting goal dates for partial project completion.
So, for example, I have an Art Jewelry marketing column due on June 15th. My calendar shows I'm to chose a topic for this column by April 17th and all interviews are to be scheduled by April 24th. An initial draft is due May 14th, with revisions by May 29th. A final draft that I can send to friends to be critiqued is due on June 6th.
The result? The article is done well ahead of time with plenty of time for reviews, revisions, and critiques. I select my next column topic on June 13th, even before this one is due.
I'm doing this for all my articles and have seen a marked improvement in my writing. I wasn't sure I'd follow my system but never underestimate the allure of dates marked on a calendar in indelible green and red ink. My friend Pam's blog today is about being a rule breaker. Not me. I live for rules. Rules=order=tranquility. So if the calendar says interviews are due by a certain date, I forget I'm the one who arbitrarily set that date and follow it the same as if it were chiseled in a stone tablet come off a mountain.
If only I applied the same systematic dedication to working on my books, which are molding over in a corner in the Spring heat.
One battle at a time...