As Deadlines Go Whooshing By

Deadlines.

It seems an appropriate subject since it’s been… three weeks since my last post, and I’ve bypassed three posts. As Douglas Adams once said, I like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by. I’d tell you what my relationship with them is, but it’s probably obvious by now.

We don’t get along.

Procrastination, however, is a dear, dear friend of mine. I’ve procrastinated as long as I can remember, and it was only augmented by the fact that I was one of those annoying kids in class who could do term papers the night before the first draft was due and still get the best mark in class. That’s why I try to set firm deadlines for myself when they’re not imposed on me. Sometimes it even works.

Honestly, this is one of the parts of a writer’s life that I have a serious love/hate relationship with. I’m not published or contracted in any way, so the only deadlines I have are completely self-imposed: writing contests, writing entry deadlines, or just deadlines I set for myself when I decide that enough’s enough. If I miss a deadline, it’s no big deal. I don’t enter the contest, or I miss an opportunity. There are no tangible consequences, so I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything.

On one hand this is good. I can write when I want to, when inspiration hits or I have enough free time to sit at my desk. I even write fewer pieces that are absolute rubbish. I don’t get tired of plotlines or stories, my characters don’t annoy me quite as often because I can always just walk away.

But it is also very, very bad.

Overall, I produce less stuff, not just less bad stuff, but less good stuff too, and some of my best pieces of writing were written hours before a deadline, sometimes minutes. I just do better when the adrenaline is flowing and I don’t a have any other choice but to write. And I write so much slower. I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, and inspiration comes and goes as it pleases. This means that it can be days or weeks, once months between good pieces of writing.

That’s completely unacceptable. I understand that sometimes there’s writer’s block and some reason (though God only knows why) behind a writer’s inability to write, but this is just laziness and I need to get over it. I think part of me is scared to try to sell my novel once I get it finished. I’m scared of the rejection, or maybe I’m scared of actually getting sold.

But not finishing scares me a hell of a lot more than getting or not getting published. I am a writer. My family and friends introduce me as such (“This is Brigid. She writes.”) and I have always been writing. If I never finish anything, then that makes me a pretty horrible writer, doesn’t it? If I’m a horrible writer– the one changeable thing that’s defined me since I graduated from “reader” to “writer” in the first grade– does that make my entire life worthless? Does that make me worthless?

Logically, I don’t think so. I’ve done a lot of good just in the couple of decades I’ve lived, but I could do so much more. I am determined to do much more, and I am determined to do so with my words.

Do any of my readers need deadlines or are you all lucky enough to have the discipline to write without them? Can you write with them or does it block your creativity? Have you ever had deadlines to meet with your writing?

Status: Worldbuilding, Physical; Wordcount: 110