I like to assign myself deadlines, so that there is a possibility that creative work will get done. Deadlines assigned by others, I can deal with, but vague ideas that a spec article or manuscript will get done never motivate me to start, work and finish.
So I decided Feb. 1st is the beginning of "rewrite time" for my as-yet-unnamed YA novel. Not that I've been idle since I typed in the last sentences of the 50,000 word shitty first draft in November. I've whipped together a Christmas, written an article for Curve, painted a dog portrait, made copious novel notes, read about a dozen young adult novels and snippets of many others, read three books on the writing of young adult fiction and canvassed our daughter on her likes and dislikes in YA.
My heroine still eludes me on some level--this seems the biggest challenge--but she gets ever more in focus.
As any writer can tell you, there is always a reason NOT to write. There is a fathoms-deep sea of reasonable explanations for putting off working, a universe of "other things to do." Many that others would prefer you do. So if a writer is actually writing, you know that he or she is truly committed to the act (or some dream that writing will lead to fortune, fame and fast women).
So Feb. 1st is my start date. And the end of April my second draft completion date. Will I do it? Will I reach May 1st ready to start a more polished third draft? Stay tuned.