Do you have an art deadline coming up? Here are some tips from artists and writers about how they meet their deadlines—and how you can meet yours!

Jerry, a portrait painter, explained:

“The thing that works best for me is to have a written calendar that I can look at all at once with all the year’s deadlines written down.  If I need to frame, the time for that is written down, if two shows are coming up I’ll finish the work for one and start on the other, and so on. This may sound obsessive but it really helps.  I need to have this calendar on a wall where I can see it every day.”

Here’s one from Amy, a miniaturist:


“Since I worked full time and was raising three children by myself, my painting projects were left on the dining room table. When I had a spare fifteen minutes while dinner was cooking, I would paint. I found that if I did little steps at a time and had a clear plan of what I wanted to do I could accomplish my gallery show paintings in time. I also wore a hat that had a band that said, ‘Please don’t interrupt me, I’m working!’”


Tamara, a watercolorist, shared the following tip:


“I find that accountability to another human, set up at the beginning of the project and kept up throughout, is really important. When I know that I am going to have to report in to someone regarding a specific goal, it makes me feel embarrassed when I don’t meet it.  The fear of embarrassment thus spurs me on!”


Janet, a sculptor, offered the following tip:


“The reward method works for me.  Think of something that you really, really want.  When you accomplish your goals, you get to do that thing.  My trip to New York City last month was just such a reward trip for meeting some very hard long-term goals. Another reward I give myself is a break from my overactive dog by dropping her off at a doggie day care place for a day.”


Ellen, a collagist, explained:


“The issue of deadlines used to be paralyzing for me. I always finished on time but I often became ill after the work was submitted. Several years ago I needed to submit work for an exhibition several months before the actual date in order to allow time for the production of a catalogue. It was a miracle! I was able to prepare my work for photography and rest for several months before the opening.


“Since then I have organized my schedule so that I can complete my work early rather than at the deadline. I understood this concept before, but I think I needed to actually have the experience to fully understand how much less stressful finishing early can be. Now it is worth it to stay ahead of the game. Recently I missed my arbitrary deadline on a project (because of a minor health issue) but I still had plenty of time to finish the work because I had allowed extra time.”


And here’s a last one from bestselling romance writer Rebecca York:

“The best way to combat the anxiety of deadlines is to start the project well in advance so you leave yourself time to complete it.  Build extra weeks into your schedule. And when I start waking up in the middle of the night worried about getting my work done, my rule is to get up and work–rather than lying there and worrying about it.”


Life comes with deadlines. Learn some tactics like these that will help you meet your deadlines with grace and ease!



My creativity coaching trainings are excellent for artists who want to learn useful self-coaching techniques. For more information and to enroll in the next training, which begins in February:


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