Friday, June 19, 2015

3 Reasons to Have a Deadline

How often do you, as a writer, find yourself unmotivated?
Myself, I hit this obstacle of “But I don’t want to!” almost every week. Something else (weariness, distractions, other activities) find its way in between me and what I want to write, edit, or outline. It’s easy to give into the idea that “I’ll make up for it tomorrow”, and just push the writing to the side.

Why is it so easy to fall for the lame excuses of “I’m too tired” and “I don’t feel like it”? Because writing is hard. Writing makes that math problem you never did figure out look like a cliché piece of cake. It doesn’t take creativity to solve that math problem.

So how do we beat the daily battle for our time? You could shut down distractions, and write regardless. You could stop writing and go outline, so you know where your story is going next. You could bang your head against your laptop until one of the two colliding objects shatters. You could go skydiving. You could even start a non-profit with all proceeds benefiting pelicans.

However, not all of these will work every time. A few of them aren’t even related to getting back to writing.
That’s why I want to offer another solution, when your other ideas aren’t working. Instead of going ‘insane’, why not have a deadline?

I love deadlines. A visible mark (especially a bunch of red ink on a calendar) that shows me when I need to be done is the best motivation you can give me. Some people hate deadlines, and are stressed out by them. If you’re one of those people (what kind of creature are you?), then maybe deadlines aren’t for you. And that’s fine. Whatever gets you back into writing is more important for you.

Oh right. Target for this post is to give you three reasons for deadlines. Focus.

1. They create a sense of urgency. How often do you skip writing and watch a movie/TV show instead? Let’s all admit we’ve done it. Yes, even me. I have put mindless staring at a screen in front of writing.
I’m not saying these are bad things. In fact, they’re very good things.
However, by having a deadline, you can’t set aside writing because “I can do it later”. No, not later, you need to do it now because it needs to be done. This simple motivation to get it done before that red-inked day on the calendar works wonders.

2. Deadlines inspire creativity. No more staring at the screen, waiting for inspiration. That inspiration may never come. Moments of epiphany are few and far between. Deadlines aren’t. Deadlines happen all the time, and drive us to get things done. The lazy part of your brain that’s supposed to be cooking up a thick plot with spiced characters won’t wake up if you’re just sitting and staring. It will, on the other hand, jerk awake at the mention of a deadline and begin working feverishly to cook up a concoction or two. It might even forget to put on its chef’s hat.

3. Deadlines create satisfaction. It’s common to feel stressed about a deadline. It’s two days away, laughing maniacally as you scramble to finish your project in time. Deadlines have deep, menacing voices, terrifyingly un-cliché minions like procrastination and disturbances, and the tendency to freeze us with fear at their very gazes.
But what happens when you beat the Deadline? When the dustsettles, and the deadline lies defeated at your feet, all its minions cowering before you, everything seems brighter. The world is a better place, because you defeated that dreaded deadline. Hope swells within you, and you might even let out a cliché victory cry like “ahahahahahahahahah”. Or something.

Deadlines are tools, just like your laptop, notebooks, pencils, pens, brain, and hands are tools. You can use them to aid you, or maybe they hamper you more than anything. Whatever they do for you, make them work for you. And suddenly, you’re churning out that story faster than you anticipated.

Now go, live your-
Ah, forget it.

Do you like deadlines? Why or why not? Leave a comment and share!

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