Deadlines and Mind Games

Deadline, overtaking hapless businessman

deadlines and mind games
deadlines and mind games

Strange word, deadline: Sounds somber even grim.

Of late, I’ve been thinking about goals, targets and yes, deadlines and mind games because of the push to complete my latest book. Mostly because those who know I write are asking, ‘When will you finish the next book?’

Simple question, right?

Not loaded with animosity, simply curiosity.

Yet each time when I’ve replied verbally or in writing, I’ve felt that visceral tug or rather twist when the reply, ‘six to eight weeks’ is uttered or written.

Having lived most of my life with deadlines, invoked by others or by me, the effect has, not infrequently, been over the top:

  • Obsessive attention to the thing
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to stop thinking about it
  • Emotional reactions to all of the above ranging from irritability to extremely antisocial behavior

When I started writing fiction, close to ten years ago now, my husband asked a favor. We’d been talking about how long it would take me to write the book, I was getting ready to make the date by which the first draft would be done- the deadline. More accurately, I was talking, he was listening.

But then he asked, ‘This time, please try to make the process enjoyable. Instead of doing what you’ve always done and kill yourself to get it done, make this a journey of discovery. There’s a reason you’ve made the decision, the commitment to write this book; make the learning, the exploration fun, exciting- find out why you’ve decided to do this and let it change you…”
And then, noting my mute rather stunned reaction, “Do you think you can do this?”
Sadly, this notion had not occurred to me despite the many conversations he and I had had during the years we’d known one another about the illusion of credentials, titles, achievements, of the crushing realization when a goal is reached of what now?

What do I go for next?

With this sequel to the first novel ,published last July, I’ve learned better habits and have ‘enjoyed the journey’ so much so that I realized that my six to eight week target reply had been a rote reply made over the last several months, becoming meaningless.
So on a lark while my writer friend Rebecca and I were able to enjoy a few hours together, I added a caveat to the plans for our next ”date.’

We made a bet. If I did not have 75,000 words written by our March 25th date to see the new movie, Insurgent, then I’d buy the tickets and the meal following the movie; my husband walked in just as we made the bet asking what Rebecca’s stake was, shaking his head at my “I don’t care, I only care about my part of the bet.”

The remarkable outcome of this silly bet has bowled me over: I’ll meet that goal, easily.
In the days and weeks since I recovered from the next day horrors of just what have I done to myself here again, the writing has flowed and I look forward to what will happen in this dynamic ever changing story. The daily minimum word count has become almost easy and frequently fun.

Lesson learned: The power of fun and of playing can be surprisingly effective in maximizing our productivity. Most especially for those of us who count themselves as recovering deadline addicts.

Deadlines and Mind Games, may they live long and prosper.

2 Comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    I wonder if it’s difficult to enjoy the “first” journey simply because one might not be convinced the journey will end in a result other than extreme disappointment. Thank you for the timely reminder! Looks like I’m buying!! 🙂

    • admin says:

      Honestly no- I am so happy that this provided THE most amazing fuel- I feel as if I’m racing to keep with this story-these characters-never has this happened to me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *