Whether you love or hate them, deadlines are a part of life.
Deadlines are also a part of writing, and it’s often very useful to have a good understanding of how you deal with them on a personal level.
For example, last year, with my focus taken up by work deadlines and the launch of The Boyfriend Sessions, my writing became unproductive. I started a couple of projects, then put them on hold. I started another (which I knew would be the one I’d eventually finish next) and then proceeded to write in erratic fits and bursts. In short, I wasn’t feeling at all productive.
Then I got offered a three book deal, and why hello deadlines! Bingo!
How different people respond to deadlines
When I signed the contract for my next three books, I already knew how I responded to deadlines. Largely, the deadlines came as a relief.
To others, this might not be the case. In asking why this is, it’s helpful to take a look at the different types of deadline behavior:
The ‘Deadline Dodger’
You narrowly meet deadlines in a blink of an eye. You come face to face with deadlines and overcome them with the prowess of a superhero. Or more accurately, you leave everything to the last minute which then requires superhuman effort to meet the deadline–phew!
The ‘Deadline Tamer’
You thrive on deadlines. Life isn’t worth living if you don’t have a deadline to meet. In fact, without deadlines you feel lost and at the mercy of ‘free time’ you flit around aimlessly not achieving much of anything at all. When faced with a deadline you often meet it ahead of time, much to the frustration of the ‘dodger’ and the angst of the ‘alarmist’ (see below).
The ‘Deadline Plodder’
You’ve accepted deadlines are a part of life. You neither love nor hate them. You mark deadlines on your calendar with a calmness that lacks the enthusiasm of the ‘deadline tamer’ and a strategic approach that earns envious looks from the ‘deadline dodger.’ Then you set about meeting those deadlines, step by step. No fuss. Simple.
The ‘Deadline Alarmist’
Oh my God! A deadline! Stop everything! How on earth am I going to do this? There’s no way I can meet that deadline. *breathes in* *breathes out* OK, I can do this. I think. I hope. Oh crap. *breathes in* *breathes out*
In reality, the ‘deadline alarmist’ meets deadlines just as effectively as the ‘plodder’ but usually with a great deal more angst, panic and a few extra grey hairs.
Don’t let deadlines write you off
For a writer, deadlines can be a good thing. Since I agreed to the deadlines for my next three books I set a weekly word count goal. Many weeks I exceed it. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m primarily the ‘Deadline Tamer.’ I feel like the world is a better place with deadlines and I usually try to over achieve.
That’s not to say that your deadline persona can’t shift and change. When first faced with deadlines, I usually exhibit ‘deadline alarmist’ behavior. Then I get hold of my anxiety and depending on how passionate I am about the deadline, I’m a ‘tamer’ or ‘plodder.’ But never a ‘dodger’ (shudders). And occasionally as the deadline looms close I slip into alarmist behavior again. The key is to recognize it so you can manage it. That’s the plan anyway!
How about you? What sort of deadline persona do you have? And does knowing your deadline persona help you keep things under control when seeking to meet those deadlines?