Writing to a deadline

Writing requires deadlines and other rituals.


“So, how much writing did you get done today?” asked my friend, concerned that I kept putting off the most important task of all.

“I’m just getting started,” I said at 7:30 pm.

“What? What did you do all day?”

“I had 2 loads of laundry to wash, hang, let dry, fold, and put away. I had to clean the bathroom, the fridge, and the floor. I still have to clear the paperwork on my desk.”

I was not complaining or procrastinating. While I was doing the house chores, I was thinking about how and what to write.

I wish there’s a magic wand to make all the words appear. I’ve drafted the outline. I’ve given myself and others a deadline. The raw material is totally here, in my brain, on my computer, in e-mails, and in printed form. All I have to do is copy and paste, write, rewrite, and polish it.

But there is a million other things on my mind. I can’t work in a dirty and messy space. My Brazilian friend admired how her German husband could plant himself anywhere, in the middle of a mess, and work away. She has to clean the entire house before she can begin to think. I am somewhat the same way. While cleaning, I am thinking. I am plotting.

When I wrote concert reviews, I forced myself to write and publish as soon as the concert was over. The longer I waited, the less compelled I was to write a review at all.

On my first day as magazine editor, my publisher said,”You know what a deadline is? If you don’t make it, you’re dead.” Since then, my life revolved around deadlines and word count.

The latest threat I received was compelling enough for me to meet my first deadline. “I will not talk to you unless you submit that chapter.” Thankfully, it was real enough that I submitted the chapter the day before it was due.

So now, I tell my friends, “Please do not bother me. Do not talk to me. I will not and cannot engage in conversation until I meet my deadline.”

The trouble is, I have set myself a deadline every week. It will be several weeks before I emerge to embrace the world again.

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

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