The Importance of Deadlines

Deadlines are intimidating.  Let’s get that out of the way right now.  They are marked on your calendar in bold, black ink.  They taunt your lack of motivation and constantly remind you that time is growing short.

So what happened?  You have a project that you’ve been assigned.  There’s a goal to get it finished by a certain day.  There’s excitement and energy as you outline and prepare and can visualize the final result.  You can hardly wait to get started.

Then that dreaded procrastination sets in and you find every excuse in the book to avoid getting started.  Laundry has become The Most Important Thing.  And the kitchen needs to be re-organized and cleaned.  Or the garage.  Everything else seems to have taken on a higher degree of importance over the project with its dreaded deadline.  I know this very well – I’ve been there.

Photo Credit: Source Unknown

The trick, then, is to change how one views deadlines.  Rather than see them as obstacles to overcome or stifling one’s creative nature, choose to see the deadline as a cheerleader, urging you forward.  Block out a segment of time for the project that is manageable to your schedule.  Do as much work as possible within that blocked out time.  Always remember to breathe.

 

Deadlines can be intimidating to the point of avoidance.  By embracing it as a friend, a cheerleader and a challenge, you will be able to tap back into that excitement for your project.

An Empty Stage

In the image above, there is an empty stage.  Given that there are no set pieces or props onstage, one cannot reasonably assume what the production’s status is.  I chose that image because it is symbolic of both the beginning and the end of a project.  For a set designer, the stage plan is provided in the script and from there, the set is built on that empty stage.

For the writer, it’s a blank page, to be marked on by pen.

Writing is solitary by nature.  It takes discipline to sit down and write.  And it takes absolute courage to share it with someone else, whether it’s a close friend or family member, or an editor.  Even more so when the manuscript is finished and sent off to a publisher.  There is no set formula for a best-selling novel.  As near as I can tell, it’s a combination of talent and hard work, timing, a publisher willing to take a chance and a good editor.

An editor’s job is to go through your work, pick out the small things (wording, spelling, grammar) and big things (summarizing rather than showing).  Any criticism offered is to help make your work the best it can be.  In order to grow as a writer, one needs to listen to the editor’s critiques with an open mind and not take it personally.  I realize this is not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary.

How to I listen to my editor?  By recognizing that every objection I might have to her suggestions is due to my own ego.  If I remove that from the equation (which is not always easy), then I am open to receive the help she is giving me in making my own work the best it can be.  If I want my work to be taken seriously, I need to present it as my very best.

The empty stage above is from a production I was involved in last year.  I took that photo at the end, when the props and set pieces had been removed.  This is pretty much what it looked like in the beginning, coming full circle.  So it is with writing – it begins with a blank page and ends with the manuscript in the mail.

And then you turn to a fresh page and start all over.

 

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