Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ode to Deadlines

I love goals. I love deadlines.

I discovered during college that I was practically the only student suffering from this malady, but I really do love deadlines. They are wonderful. They create a sense of pressure, an amazing panic of thought, and a plethora of clumsy mistakes as fingertips race to hit the wrong keys. Deadlines also help people accomplish insane, massive assignments within a set amount of time.

I’m as much into overkill, apparently, as the main climax of Gladiator. (For the record, I only watched the second half of the movie, in between helping a friend decipher her knitting instructions and trying to read Doctor Zhivago. If you’ve watched the whole thing—good for you. Now find something better to do with your time.) I like to get things done. Getting things done gives me a sense of security.

Unfortunately, as you might well guess, this focus on ‘getting things done’ disrupts my life at times. If for some unplanned reason I miss a deadline, if I fail to get something done, I lose my sense of accomplishment.

Just now, I only have on major goal on my calendar—to finish my current novel by the end of the year. I’m setting my New Year’s goals early, getting ahead on the game. It shouldn’t be too bad. I only have to write a dozen more chapters in the next two and a half weeks.

Only problem? I originally intended to finish the story by Thanksgiving. Then, after a month long delay in September, I pushed the deadline back New Year's Eve. Based on ay reasonable calculation, I should be able to write a couple thousand words a day. It would only take, say, 4-8 hours, depending on my thought-processing speed. Unfortunately, that doesn't include delays from plot complications. And being sick for a week—enough time to read 14 books, but not enough to write anything.

Still, I’m learning to cope. I would usually be in panic mode by now, but I'm handling it okay. Maybe I'll finish the book by the end of January. If not, I'll give myself permission to extend the deadline again.

And maybe, by the time I finish, I'll have figured out the plot for the next book in the series. Until it changes. After all, I'll have plenty of time to create deadlines for that book also.

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