Currently working on: Revisions of Book 4
I am bad at math. I am like one of those Neolithic people who allegedly could only count to three: you, me, somebody else, and “many.”
Which is why I need deadlines. Preferably dropdeadlines. Especially dropdeadsoondeadlines.
The joy of short deadlines
Deadlines that are too far away just don’t get my blood pumping. I fritter away the early days of a long deadline because, from a distance, it’s hard to see how sharp its teeth are. I do better with small numbers. One month fits on a calendar page. Two weeks is the length of a great vacation. Three days — a long weekend — makes intuitive sense to me.
Short deadlines are inspiring. They are also impressive. Telling my loved ones that I only have one month/two weeks/three days to finish a project gets me out of pretty much every chore. There’s very little around the house that can’t wait a month, with the possible exception of grocery shopping to restock perishable snacks.
The horror of short deadlines
Of course, only having a month/week/day to reach an important goal can be terrifying. Hyperventilating about looming deadlines is almost as much fun as not vacuuming. (Probably because they are both about sucking.)
I have one week left to finish revisions on Book 4 of the Marked Souls. I had much longer, but this is what I have left. Even though I’ve been working on it for awhile, now is when the adrenalin rush of facing the deadline kicks in.
Managing the deadline
1. Know your ideal productivity chunks.
When I hot draft, I work best in daily increments: X words per day for a finished draft by X time. I find scheduling revisions is harder. A blank page is a constant, but dirty pages (pages that have, ya know, writing on them) require different amounts of work to get cleaned up. Some are only dusty but some need a haz-mat team. So for me, X chapters revised per week works better than a daily goal.
2. Remove distractions.
Damn you, constantly flowing Twitter stream. (Follow me and say hi; I’ll follow back.) On dropdeadline, sometimes going dark is the only option. (Uh, so if you follow me on Twitter, I’ll follow you on March 1.) I also make sure I have a fresh bucket of cookie dough to fuel the mayhem so I don’t waste time with deciding what to have for a midnight snack.
3. Ride the killer wave.
It’s kind of sick, but I sorta like the frantic exhaustion of dropdeadline time. Many of my worst writing habits — impossible perfectionism, overthinking, indecisiveness — will get cut as insupportable self-indulgence in this last week. What’s on the page becomes more important than what’s in my head. The story takes precedence over the writer. I allow myself to have caffeine!
The best part of the dropdeadsoondeadline is that it is right here. Which means just on the other side is the light at the end of the tunnel, the gold ring, the winner’s circle, The End.
But I can tell ya now, my post next Monday will be late.
How do you deal with looming deadlines in your work? Are you the diamond who shines under heat and pressure? Or are you the ticking time bomb that makes everybody run away?