Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deadlines = Carrot + Inspiration

I don't know why I get so fired up for a deadline - maybe it's some residual effect from my office days (writing! it's like a real job after all!) or maybe the symbol of community in a pretty isolated line of work (writing! hard to do in a room full of people!) but I always write better to a deadline.

Interestingly, I also knit better to a deadline, as I discovered yesterday when a friend sent me a note about a hat design contest.

I will have more of what passes for free time through much of July, and I intended to use it to finish a draft of the newer novel-in-progress, unless lightning struck on the older novel-in-third-revision to help me figure out how to fix it in a fourth. In fact that intention is what got me through the last six months.

Now my end-of-July deadline has shifted. It makes me sad to give up that precious time for anything else, but I've accepted that I may use the month to complete a nonfiction writing project, or take paying work, or knit a lot of hats, apparently. It depends on which opportunities arise.

This is the thing about deadlines. If you have an overall goal, they can act as a sail to carry you forward to a clear destination. If you're more scattered in your dreams and you don't choose your deadlines carefully, you can end up scurrying around and finishing things while staying in the same place. You have to be flexible and allow yourself to see when a new deadline can take priority over another - maybe not forever, but just long enough to put you into a better position to complete the first. A new deadline can even remove the need for the first.

The knitting project I've just added to my list won't remove the need for my original July deadline or my interest in the other two, but it has given me an opportunity to be creatively inspired, and it's hard not to accommodate a bonus like that. Especially when I'll have cold ears again in less than five months!

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