“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams
“There is nothing the wise man does reluctantly.” – Seneca
What can you teach me, deadlines? I mean, obviously I shouldn’t procrastinate, but what more can I learn from you?
Deadlines force us to leave hyper-perfectionism behind us, by which I mean fear of writing. Hyper-perfectionism is a negative super-emotion, and the world of business books and lifestyle philosophy has plenty of good advice for us here. Success experts’ advice is not to attempt to banish negative thoughts, but rather to think of something positive. A deadline accepted is a promise made, and promises are positive, particularly if made to someone or something we love, like our families, friends, and careers.
Deadlines Hone Craft
Approaching a tough deadline, like the one I’m late for today (promise delayed, but not broken, I promise) is an excellent crucible for writing craft. I have 10,000 words due next week. Okay, that’s 2,000 for the setup, 1,000 for the debate, 3,000 for Act 1 Part 1, 3,000 for Act 2 part 2, and 1,000 for the showdown and dénouement. One does not have 6 months to noodle around when deadlines loom, before us or behind us. We take the time to review and tighten each section. We don’t sacrifice our health, of course (because honestly, we would like to live long enough to profit from the demands upon our writing) but we think while we’re walking: How can I tighten up the action in this Act? How can I turn this section on my hero’s tough choice?
Deadlines Mean Success
When you get right down to it, whether we set our own deadlines or we’re writing to those others set for us, it means we’re finishing. Finishing is vital, if we want to see our book arrive, boxed up and beautiful, at our door, and, please God, some profits in our accounts.
“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” – Douglas Adams. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career.
Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.