Time…it is the bane of our existence in so many ways. From birth we spend our days fighting against the clock. It begins early with our being taught that there is a time to eat, a time for bed and a time to play. This concept is passed down from generation to generation and we get to carry it on blissfully unaware at how much damage time keeping can be.
For a writer time keeping can suck the life out of your work. Between our own super imposed deadlines, the editing deadlines and the publishing deadlines you can lose your work. I was a journalist for over 30 years so the concept of deadlines is so deeply ingrained in me that I have a hard time working at all without first drumming up a sense of deadline doom. I often even find myself waiting until that last minute on a project just to feel that feeling. Sick huh?
While I think that it is always important to keep the deadlines you have agreed to, I would advise you, as a writer, not to agree to too many of them. Don’t set deadlines for yourself….instead set goals. When you set a deadline you are forcing yourself to complete the work and the anxiety that comes with that is more trouble than it is worth. If you instead set goals you will get a sense of building towards something instead and your writing will reflect that.
- While I understand that we live in a time laden world I still don’t like it. Humans are the only species on the planet that holds itself to a made up sense of time. I challenge you to throw out the concept of time, at least as it relates to your writing. Here are some suggestions on how to do that…
- Figure out when you work best and roll with it – Forget the “I work better in the mornings” or “I can only write at night”…just write when the mood or inspiration strikes.
- Give yourself a goal, not a deadline – Even the word “deadline” reeks of doom. Set a goal instead.
- Don’t allow demands – Don’t allow an editor or a publisher to demand when your work will be completed. We writers have more power than we give ourselves credit for. It’s our work they want.
- Don’t demand too much of yourself – Allow your stories to write themselves, it is the only way to stay true to the story. When we impose deadlines we make the characters react and that is never good.
In the end we need to give ourselves the time we need to write the story. I know that I hate feeling rushed and I guarantee that your characters will too. Slow down, allow the story to flow and throw out those deadlines…your characters, and your peace of mind, will thank you.
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