Deadlines can be disastrous. August 2 for Congress. September 1 for School. December 25 for Naughty or Nice! No matter what project is at hand, any deadline can be gracefully accomplished, or utter disaster.
I wish this post could be about the Great Debt Ceiling Feud of 2011. I have plenty to say about that little shootin’ match going on in Washington this week. But that’s for other blogs. No, my own personal deadline has been on my mind lately. You see, I promised myself that I would finish my book this summer. And I’ve cobbled together all the bits I’ve written on my current WIP into a “master file” document. It currently stands at 42,000 really messy words. Am I pleased? No!
I’m terrified. And my writing has slowed even more than usual (and I’m not a high-output writer in the first place). My personal deadline when school let out was to have a 90,000 word rough draft by September 1. Realization: ain’t gonna happen. Maybe I should run for Congress! Wait, I’ve already said that’s a topic for other blogs.. So, I have to accept where I am (not good at that) and reframe my ambition (definitely not good at that!) or abandon the effort altogether (never).
But, as I fussed about this last night, I commented – “I remember when I first started writing full time, I started the day by ‘going to work.’ I wrote from nine until twelve every day. Then I had lunch, and the afternoon was for the home-improvement projects in the house.” And that realization, that long-buried memory, was very freeing. I’d had the discipline to write, and I’d been successful at completing a book and seeing it in print.
So today is calmer. Once I post this, I’ll set a time limit for how long I’ll be at the keyboard today, working on my book. Once that’s over, I won’t go back. I won’t dwell. I’ll certainly think about my writing. I might scribble some notes. But I will NOT obsess about that deadline. It’s history. I’m not going to make myself sick over it.
So – do you obsess over deadlines? How do you handle the stress of these demons? Avoid? Negotiate? Reframe? Or embrace?
And remember: Christmas is just 5 months away. Start those shopping lists now! Every minute counts.