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Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing Deadlines & Monday Motivation

For me, nonfiction is so much a job, and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been a successful nonfiction writer, compared to some of my friends who are novelists. This was true especially in my twenties and thirties. I have lots of friends whom I was always recommending to magazines -- I’ll put in a good word for you, and you can get this job too -- and they couldn’t do it. They procrastinated. They couldn’t do this whole deadline thing, and it made them incredibly miserable, to have the looming assignment, and for some reason that never bothered me; I’m really good with assignments!

I was listening to Fresh Air the other day, and it was an interview with Ann Patchett, and she brought up the idea of deadlines and writing, and how that worked for her, even though her peers were driven mad by magazine writing because of the deadlines, and felt this gust of fresh air (hah).  I love having deadlines for written work -- a hard deadline, even from a friend, pushes me to DO IT.  If I'm tinkering with something, I'll tinker forever.  But if someone's actively tapping a foot, waiting for my project, well then I'd better stop tinkering and start working.  The longer I write, the more I find this to be really true -- whether it's my fortnightly RVANews column, or a project I'm working on with a friend (Greg, I've got an open Google Doc tab, I'm working!), if it's a project with a hard deadline, then I try as hard as possible to be The Dependable One.  It's probably a deep-seated desire to not disappoint someone who's counting on me, in however small a way.  If I'm late with X, Y will be disappointed in me, and THAT CANNOT HAPPEN.  LIFE WILL BE OVER MY SHAME WILL BE COMPLETE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Sorry, favorite gif, cannot resist using under any remotely applicable circumstance, amen

If it's a project that I signed up for, or if it's a project to do with my professional life/job, it'll get done (if nobody else sets a deadline and it's open-ended, I'll set one myself).  But personal side projects just end up at the back of the queue.  I know personal projects just aren't going to move faster than a sloth's pace for that reason.  A dead sloth.  I suppose it's that way with everyone.  If there were more hours in the day...well, truthfully I'd probably spend them watching Downton Abbey or Teen Mom 2, if I'm supposed to be all honest and stuff on this blog.  

But man, the heights I could soar if someone would just give me a deadline for a novel.  A deadline, a deadline, my kingdom for a deadline!  

And with that...happy Monday?  How's about this, if you're like me, consider this your ~Monday Motivation~: I'm going to be very disappointed with you if you don't finish that personal project by the end of the week!  Get to work!  RAH RAH!  :D

(Okay, so maybe you're off of work this Monday like I am.  Well, all the more reason to work on that personal project, right?  Like I'm totally doing!*)

*Not.  I'm working on column to send to my editor by the end of the day, and then on that collaborative writing project with Greg.  Personal writing projects, back to the end of the queue!  My own advice...is apparently something I can't take.  :P

1 comment:

  1. I'm so with you on being The Dependable One, which is why I tend to work better with deadlines, too. It also means that even if I'm under the crunch of a deadline, I'll still want my work to be good (ah, why can't I just be a disappointment!?!) and won't just throw something together to make the cut.

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