July 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
I hate deadlines.
I dislike it even more when I miss them repeatedly. The internal frustration at my lack of self-discipline is probably the only thing that feels worse, especially when I know that it lessens the trust that others can place in me. Right now, I have missed several and know that tomorrow, when I head in to work, I’ll be playing catch-up.
Oddly, this happens most with my writing.
I can’t remember ever submitting an article on time. I have thrown a few lines together for a script (sub-standard, no less) and felt awful after. Years on, I haven’t learnt my lesson. I know I need to start earlier, and for the record, I try!
I start my introduction, I do my research, and somehow, after letting the ideas percolate for a while, I begin writing. Only to realize that I need more time for the words to string themselves together in a way that feels… satisfactory. By the time I’m done, I’ve already missed the extended deadline.
I came back from my trip with a determination that I would be on-time in my submissions. What a joke. I immediately missed two, forgot another two appointments today and found myself in a confused and bewildered state, scrambling to keep the balls up in the air.
The thing is… I actually can’t live without deadlines. If I didn’t have them, I find myself imposing a time frame of some sort to work within. It’s as if (oh god, can it be true?) I need these deadlines to get inspired.
‘A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most kick-ass form. It’s a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path. This is especially true when it comes to creative pursuits.’
– Chris Baty
God. Throw me a lifeline. Please.
It began as a real line, drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence or rail, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps. They were warned, “If you cross this line, you’re dead.” To make dead sure this important boundary was not overlooked, guards and prisoners soon were calling it by its own bluntly descriptive name, the dead line.
An 1864 congressional report explains the usage in one camp: “A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about twenty feet from it, constitutes the ‘dead line,’ beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.” Nothing could be more emphatic than dead line to designate a limit, so it was happily applied to other situations with strict boundaries.
For example, the storyteller O. Henry wrote in 1909 about crossing “the dead line of good behavior.” But it was the newspaper business that made deadline more than just a historical curiosity. To have the latest news and still get a newspaper printed and distributed on time requires strict time limits for those who write it.
Yet many are the excuses for writers to go beyond their allotted time: writers’ block, writers’ perfectionism, or just plain procrastination.
Our urgent twentieth century has made such deadlines essential not just for reporters and other writers but in every kind of activity; there are deadlines for finishing a job or assignment, for entering a contest, for ransoming hostages, or for buying a product at the special sale price.
(see original article here)
I guess I can be grateful that I won’t be fatally shot any time soon.