Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Deadlines

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines.

For a writer, a deadline can be a wonderful thing. Because it forces you to finish; to get the story to a publishable state by a certain date and time. Otherwise, I can tend to allow a story to sit, be ignored, and generally linger on my laptop in a neglected state.

Now it may be possible that I am unique in this procrastination/avoidance cycle. That plenty of writers treat their stories with tenacity and respect, and that they don't require anything as artificial as an external deadline to force them into getting their butts-in-chairs and working.

I will now wait while you stop laughing.

Because, honestly, I have plenty of company in the procrastination/avoidance department. Writing is solitary. It doesn't have a time-clock that docks your pay if you're fifteen minutes late sitting down in front of your netbook. It doesn't have a manager who ticks the "doesn't meet deadlines" box on your quarterly performance review so that you might not make level 12 with the union this month.

Case in point, I'm posting this Tuesday writing tip on Wednesday.

Hence the love of deadlines.

Being in a writers' group can also help you to love deadlines. Because often, several of you will be submitting to the same anthology or contest with the same deadline. And as a group, you can cheer each other on, nudge each other closer to perfection, and create a bit of healthy competition.

But I also hate deadlines. Because they force me to turn off the television, or close the exciting book I'm reading, and get back to work. When I really don't feel quite "up to working." Self-motivation is such an exhausting nuisance.

I spoke in a previous blog about Club 100 and how having that daily routine can help to produce a continuous flow, so that you won't procrastinate, and you will make all of those deadlines.

Did I mention I've fallen off the Club 100 wagon, and am now back to day zero?

This post is morphing into a lament over procrastination, which is the younger, annoying brother of deadlines. The two fight constantly, punching each other for no reason, stealing each other's toys and jockeying for the better seat in the car.

As a writer, consider buying a monthly calendar for your deadlines and goals. I would suggest a paper calendar, rather than the one on your phone or tablet. The kind you can place in close proximity to the spot where you love to write. Mark all of the deadlines for projects that matter to you. Do it now, because I will admit I have missed far too many deadlines simply because I swore I would remember them, only to the open the email or find the note two months after the deadline has passed. I also number the weeks on my monthly calendar, to give me a reminder of the submission goal of "one sub a week" that I don't exactly follow, but at least strive for.

I know that cookie looks tasty, and that you only want to watch one episode of [insert your favourite show here] which should only take forty-five minutes, and you're not quite in the right headspace to write at this very moment.

Write anyway.

The Tesseracts 16 deadline is February 29th, and I must now finish polishing that story or I am going to miss out on a great opportunity. I will now stop using the blog as a procrastination tool and get back to writing...

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