Thursday, March 24, 2016

Deadline or Lifeline?

A Post By Jonathan  

Credit to TED Talk website

I'm unfortunately going to have to make this post kind of short because I've got a sick one-year-old at home and there's no telling when he might jump up and scream like a banshee for "dada" to run down the hall and tend to his every need...

Who am I kidding? Yes, I have a sick kid. But he wasn't sick on Monday or Tuesday, when I really should've been working on my blog post (due Thursday). The truth is, I kind of procrastinated on this one. So, that's what I'm going to post about today. Procrastination.

I know, I know, we writers have heard it all before -- or we'll wait and hear it all tomorrow-- but I had an epiphany that I just had to share. As an unagented, unpublished, wannabe author, it really hit home for me and I hope it will do the same for you. Let's stick with that thought for a second....

What do agented/published authors have that we, the undiscovered, don't? Besides tons of money from book sales (or at least some money from book sales), their names written in time for all eternity, and all the other ethereal jazz that comes with being a person who wrote an actual book and had the courage to send it out into the world?

Deadlines, people. Deadlines. Or are they actually Lifelines?

If you troll some of the writing blogs/Facebook groups I do, you may have seen a link recently to a TED Talk by Tim Urban, titled "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator." The whole thing is really good, so I recommend you watch it from beginning to end. But the part that really stuck out to me was when the presenter highlighted the two different kinds of procrastination. The traditional, more talked about kind is when you wait right up until the deadline to finish your project, like I did with this post... But the worse kind of procrastination, the kind I think I've been struggling with for sometime, comes when you have no deadline at all.

I'm famous for revealing that I've been working on the same novel for over a decade. Now I know that it's not because I'm lazy. My panic monster just hasn't had a reason to wake up in a while... (watch the TED Talk and you'll know see what I'm talking about).  Basically, without a deadline, I've had no true incentive to push my novel to the point of publication. And yet, when I was in college and had to turn work in for a grade, I would pull multiple all-nighters to finish a paper or project. Would I feel like kind of a loser that I waited so long to finish the assignment? Yes (though at least I finished it...). But it was nothing compared to how I feel --and how I think many other deadlineless writers feel-- pecking away at a project, day after day, year after year, with nothing to show for it but a bunch of words on paper that no one will ever read.

So how do we get over that first hump? Can we procrastinators really impose timelines on ourselves? I wish I could give you a resounding yes, but it's up to the individual (for the record, I'm really going to try!). I guess that's why NaNoWriMo is so popular. It gives us all a deadline. I do know this. If we don't find ways to set hard targets for ourselves we will continue to feel unaccomplished, and our dreams of publication will continue to drift further and further away.

I did have one idea. I thought about going into the business of selling deadlines. You give me $100.00 and I give you a deadline in return. If you don't meet your deadline, I keep your $100.00. If you do meet your deadline, you get your $100.00 back with a little interest. If everyone meets their deadlines, I'm in the red. If not, I'm in the black. What do you think? Any takers out there? If so, I'll just need your credit card number...

Anyway, thanks for stopping by! I think I hear a baby crying...

  

8 comments:

  1. Try writing sprints to help you get your word count done. I know with the kids it's hard to work, but sprints help. Then again so does confinement. Good luck with both!

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    1. Good suggestions, Kimberly. I'll try it!

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  2. LOL! Can I get in on this business? :-P

    I so agree about deadlines. It's the only way I get things done. So I've taken to setting them for myself... have a project plan and everything! I find that telling people about my deadlines helps (since it makes me feel accountable). Of course, I still procrastinate... I do that "put it off till the last second then binge-work" thing...

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    1. Yeah, the only flaw I see in the idea is how do you prove when someone has met their deadline? :) I need to get one of those project plans-- could be what I'm missing. Thanks!

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  3. Love the idea of paying for a deadline! I agree that it's very hard to find the motivation sometimes when there is no one out there enforcing a deadline. Sometimes I find that if I can just force myself to write one sentence (even if I know I will delete it later) then I usually will keep writing.

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    1. Thanks, Carrie! You can be my first customer! P.S. I've actually been writing a little more lately and the one sentence certainly helps get me started.

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  4. I need this deadline service you speak of! My deadline to finish my current book is, uh, today. Two guesses as to how that's going? :)

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    1. We are all procrastinators, Brenda! You are not alone. Good luck on the deadline! I'll give you till the end of the week. Now that'll be $100! :)

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