Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tick Tock

I am on deadline right now.

Everyone at my house knows what that means. Do not expect more than the bare minimum from me. I will make sure there is food in the house and that everyone gets to school/soccer/drum lessons/rockclimbing/band practice, etc., but that's it. Don't expect conversations with me to make any sense. I have severe book brain. All my words are being used on the page. I don't have any superfluous ones to throw about willy-nilly. And if you catch me playing Tetris, it's because I'm THINKING, okay?

There are some good things about deadlines. I know, for instance, that this proposal that WILL go off on Friday probably wouldn't be done for another few weeks if I was left to drift along on my own. It also gave me a wonderful excuse not to participate in the redoing of my mothers' apartment last week which most definitely brought out the absolute worst in my two generally charming and delightful sisters. The deadline makes me focus. It makes me stick my butt in the chair for more solid hours so the work is more consistent and linear.

It also makes me a little crazy.

I don't like rushing. I'm pretty sure there is not a single fast-twitch muscle in my body. I don't run fast and I don't think fast. Some times the choices I make during crunch times are not the best ones for the story. It's harder to come up with that twist we were talking about last week or to dig a little deeper. I'm also not crazy about waking up in the middle of the night chewing my own tongue. Although I suppose it's better than waking up chewing someone ELSE'S tongue. People are so touchy about things like that.

So how do you feel about deadlines? Do they help you focus? Keep your priorities straight? Or do they rush you into making easy choices?


Kimber Chin said...

Great post Eileen!

I love deadlines.
I usually make up my own
just because I get more done with a deadline.

I don't like rushing though
so I give myself some lead time.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I absolutely need deadlines. Something I'm just coming to realize about myself. I'm freakin lazy without them.

But as soon as I signed a contract I had the motivation I needed to get my ass out of bed an hour early in the morning to write.

I hate getting up. It is my least favorite part of the day. But that one hour in the morning - pure gold for writing time.

Unfortunately - self imposed deadlines just don't do it for me. I have NO will power. But once I know an editor is waiting on the other end I will do anything not to miss it.


Kristen Painter said...

As someone who is working under a real deadline for the first time, I have to say it's forcing me to be productive. Which is a good thing.

I don't run fast either. Maybe it's a tall thing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I love writing deadlines - love 'em. But proposal deadlines? Something else entirely - writing proposals is quite possibly the most stressful kind of writing for me -- all that hard work. The thinking. The expectations and the reversing expectation. It kills me - so I feel your pain right now and I do not envy you.

That said - I have a deadline for the end of september and I am on page 107. yes, that's right. Only 220 pages to go.

Maureen McGowan said...

I just experienced my first proposal deadline and hated it up to the last day when I decided (perhaps in a state of delirium and delusion) that what I'd produced was pretty okay.

But up to that point? When I was less than confident that I'd pull it off? I was not a happy camper.

But generally, in my past lives, (and by lives, I mean careers and school), I've thrived on deadlines.

Eileen said...

I do think they keep me focused and productive. I used to do (and sometimes still do) the self-imposed deadline thing. They help, but not quite enough, you know?

Kristen, I always think the long legs thing should make me a faster runner. My most well-matched running buddy is about seven inches shorter than me. We have the same stride. It's ridiculous.

Maureen McGowan said...

For my first few books, the self-imposed deadline thing worked really well. As did promising it to someone by a certain date. (an escalation of the self-imposed deadline)

But as time goes on... and I've experienced the hurry-up-and-wait aspect of this business so many times... (like, getting a full to an agent, who sounds super excited, and then not having heard from her 10 months later when you've received an offer from someone else...) I just can't trick myself into believing those fake deadlines anymore.

Here's hoping I get more "real" deadlines, soon. Then I can complain about deadlines, instead of complaining about not having deadlines. ;-)

Eileen said...

They're totally a double-edged sword. I'm pretty methodical about my writing and yet I still end up with a huge crazy crush right in the last few days. But then, at least I finish the thing, right?

Sinead M said...

I'm with Maureen, the self-imposed deadlines no longer work for me..
Hoping I deal better with real deadlines, because this last book took months longer than it should have

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