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Deadlines

June 25, 2007

Cat’s Brain: Deadline, you have a deadline looming.

Cat: Yes I know that. Thank you.

Cat’s Brain: You need to write about writing. Are you thinking about writing? Shouldn’t we brainstorm a little–you know, at least make a pretense of working?

Cat: Please, I still have eight hours left before I need to post.

Cat’s Brain: Why do you insist on torturing me like this?

Cat: Habit.

I have been a procrastinator ever since I was (literally) dragged into this world, kicking and screaming, almost two weeks after my predicted delivery date. There is nothing so important to be done that I won’t be careening around corners, leaving skid marks on the floor, and shooting my assignment in under a rapidly lowering metal slot, seconds before it’s due.

While there are plenty of industrious writers who regularly toil away at their desks, facing deadlines head-on, there seems to be an equal number who surf the latest author blogs, munch Cheetos, and pass out on the sofa while watching Nick at Nite. This little personality quirk doesn’t serve anyone seeking publication well when there’s an editor expecting a completed manuscript by a specific date, especially if money’s involved. At this point, those of us in the It-Can-Wait-Until-Tomorrow camp. are vigorously cursing those Goody-Two-Shoe workaholics and their commitment to diligence.

I find though, that there’s an interesting logic to the “play now, cram later” methodology, covert and twisted as it may be; and whether this applies to others of the same ilk, I can’t say. I have found, that I only procrastinate to a certain point, as if my brain knows just how much dawdling to allow before delivering a swift kick to The Muse’s behind and declaring, “Magic time!” Given a command to perform, the machinery never fails to start humming and force my creative juices into overdrive, just when I need them most. Granted it’s not the best plan of attack, and I certainly don’t recommend it if possible to avoid; but some people do work better when the stakes have been raised.

Writing under a deadline forces me to cut through all the minutiae and focus on my work. I don’t have time to sit and let ideas roll around in my head. I’ve got to figure out the best way to communicate my thoughts to a specific audience, by a specific time. There’s no better way of keeping dreamers rooted in reality than by anchoring us with the concrete.

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guestwriter1.gif Thanks Catherine James!

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5 Comments
  1. June 25, 2007 12:36 pm

    *raises hand* I would be one of those people who work better when the stakes are high. That’s why I’m so PRODUCTIVE during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because I’m FORCED to be.

    That’s why I adore the Fiction Friday meme – it forces me to think and post all in a twenty minutes span (what – me stop writing in five minutes?! Are you mental?)

    So Catherine, what I’m trying to say is that I totally get you. I’m exactly the same way. In fact, I think I’ve had that same conversation with my brain. 😀

    Thanks for posting!

  2. June 25, 2007 1:38 pm

    Yes, yes, like Karen I am the same way.

    But part of me wonders… if we kicked into gear earlier, wouldn’t we end up with a better product by the deadline? (Parenting 101 there. Anyone with school-age kids has said it about that report on Otters. “You had two weeks to do it.” “But it’s due tomorrow.” “Well, you should have started earlier.”)

  3. June 25, 2007 2:20 pm

    Hee! Thank you Karen.

    I’ve wondered that myself pjd, even tested the theory, and whaddya know? I wasn’t able to produce the same caliber of work while attempting the “head start.” Not that this applies to all procrastinators…

  4. June 25, 2007 5:24 pm

    cool, CJ. Maybe some day I’ll get around to testing that, too. 🙂

  5. June 25, 2007 11:13 pm

    I’m motivated to work better under deadline. The problem is that I don’t do my best work under that kind of pressure. By the time I finish the story, I don’t have the time to inspect my work.

    Basically what I’m saying is I’m the same way, but it’s not really the best way to produce material.

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