Deadlines: whooshing or otherwise?

An oft quoted phrase attributed to Douglas Adams is “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” I’m not sure if it is emblematic of my tendency to comply, but deadlines tend to translate into results for me.

A simple example would be my blog posts. I made a decision before I started to blog that I would try to write two posts a week. This was based on wanting to write about the Blue Mountains area in particular, effectively from the viewpoint of being a tourist in my adopted home, but I also wanted to explore writing habits and practices. Occasionally I have meandered off the track at times, but in essence this remains the focus for my blogging.

There have been times when I have faced the blank page, bereft of thoughts let alone ideas. But so far – touch wood – I have managed to come up with something before each due date. There are times when there is an abundance of ideas for one theme but not the other, reflective perhaps of where my mind is at that point of time. These ideas are captured and explored when time allows. Having a writing rhythm helps, and I know that it is preferable to have a draft, no matter how insignificant or rough, which can be expanded and edited at least a day or two before I’m due to post. There are times though when it is more of a last minute dash to get the words down.

My blogging schedule is self-imposed, but I try to apply the same discipline to writing competition deadlines. I keep an eye out for upcoming competitions and jot down key details on a whiteboard so I can submit a piece if appropriate. When I first started to mix with other writers, I was fortunate to meet an accomplished and prolific poet and short story writer in the central west. He invited me around for a chat one afternoon and showed me how he kept a stack of polished works ready for upcoming competitions, and explained how he would write new pieces for competition themes when necessary. A piece might not succeed in one competition but could place or win in another. The key was to be ready to meet the deadline and to adhere to the competition entry requirements.

Due to time constraints I am selective about the competitions I enter, but I find that deadlines hold me accountable and encourage me to produce and polish a piece for submission, rather than just scratching in the margins of a writing life.

What do writing deadlines mean to you?

[Photo: old typewriter]

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Deadlines: whooshing or otherwise?

  1. I can so relate! Deadlines are essential to me—for writing or for any project that needs doing. Give me a deadline and I will always, always make it—often even early. Give me a “whenever” and you’ll never see anything from me. A deadline gives me structure. Glad I’m not alone in this appreciation for deadlines.

    • So true, Ann! It is often surprising how motivating they can be. Not quite a cure for procrastination but certainly an incentive to finish something within a timeframe.

  2. We have a lot in common. My goal was to share a blog post once a month which I had managed my life turned upside down for a while. I’ve been on the competition circuit for years and, yes, the deadlines really help keep me on track. I think I have a bit of a gambling predilection and this is a healthy way to channel it. I keep all the deadlines and descriptions in Evernote as well as reminders on my calendar. I’ve had several successes, big and small, and also many, many rejections. Putting my work out there, whether through competitions or regular submissions, keeps me motivated and accountable. Otherwise, it’s too easy to procrastinate or lose focus. Each time I submit an old piece, I reread it. Often enough, there are a few edits or revisions to be made. So that process is valuable, as well. I look forward to reading more of your posts, even if they only come every 2 weeks. Good luck to you!

    • Thank you, Evelyn, for your comments. I was interested to read about how you manage your deadlines (might have to borrow that Evernote trick!), and how this helps keep you both motivated and accountable. Great tip, too, about re-reading old work before sending it. It is amazing how often something small can be missed otherwise, or how fresh eyes can see how something can be tweaked to improve the work. Persistence seems to be the key – continuing to create and send our creative works out into the world. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, and I wish you best of luck too!

  3. I’ve always admired Bill Bradley, the former US senator and basketball player for the New York Knicks and what he said. “You must do all the big things and little things necessary to succeed, so that when the time comes, when your chance comes, when your opportunity comes, you’ll be ready.” Deadlines help me do that. Thanks for the reminder. So precious.

    • Thank you! And you are right, although sometimes it can be hard to see that it is by continuing on, step by step – regardless of how small – that we get to where we want to go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s