Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Writing Wednesday: The Power of Deadlines
I'm in a much better mood having recently met my writing deadline on my latest book project, going down to the wire but crossing the finish line with time to spare. Not much time, mind you, but days instead of hours so I'm counting that as a huge win.
And it got me thinking how deadlines are like a double-edged sword - they motivate you to get the job done while simultaneously inducing stress that can at times be so paralyzing as to prevent you from reaching your goal.
In January, my editor friend and I joined a local gym as a New Years Resolution to be healthier. We spent several hours on treadmills and recumbent bicycles discussing our projects and deadlines - mine for the upcoming book and hers for a manuscript she's editing for another writer. Our initial conversation motivated us each to count the number of days we had left to finish.
The countdown motivated me to buckle down and write... I put aside extra time, wrote out a game plan, put dates on the calendar for the remaining steps left to accomplish, and made it happen.
Counting down the remaining days had the opposite effect on her. She focused too hard on the number and how impossible the looming deadline would be to reach. She stressed out, mentally and physically, and caught the flu and got bogged down in unrelated (and unnecessary) time-sucks.
And she missed her deadline.
In her case, she seemed to be humming along at a fine pace - until she realized how close the finish line was. If she'd just kept going, head down and working, she would've made it in plenty of time to present to the client. As it is, she had to make excuses and rearrange, and yes, things worked out for her, but with a whole boatload of stress loaded on top.
It's important to understand what kind of motivation works for you and your work style. If you're the type who's motivated by a red date circled on the calendar, use it. Count it out, plan, and figure out the steps in between to make it happen.
If you're the type who sees a drop-dead date and panics... you may need to rethink how you deal with deadlines. And as much as I've tried to counsel my friend over the years (this isn't the first time I've seen it happen to her) I don't know what the answer is. I'm totally open to suggestions - if anyone has experienced that sort of "fear of success" before and figured out a way to overcome it, please share!
Now that I understand this about myself, I need to rethink my own writing habits. Setting calendar dates for milestones is positive thing for my writing style and would probably help stave off a lot of future stress. And again, if anyone has methods to help follow through with this goal, please share! I've already signed up for my next release date (in November for a holiday-themed story) and plan to go about this next endeavor more logically (LOL - as if my writer brain can work in a logical manner!)
So tell me - how do you deal with deadlines? What motivates you to finish a project?
And in the meantime, Happy Writing to ALL!