Saturday, May 02, 2009

The joy of deadlines

Sooner or later, as a writer you’ll be under the gun of a deadline.

You can look on the bright side and see deadlines from an optimist’s point of view:

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”

~Diane Scharf Hunt

That’s a good quote. If you’re a new writer you can appreciate Ms. Hunt’s quote. I remember hammering away on my novel, trying to complete it by my deadline, which was the 2006 ACFW conference. If I hadn’t set that deadline for myself, I probably wouldn’t be published today because it was at that conference that I met my acquisitions editor. (One of the first questions she asked me was, “Is the manuscript complete?”)

Deadlines. Some writers hate them, some embrace them, and others learn to live with them. Sooner or later, as a writer you’ll be under the gun of a deadline.

Do you fall into the I-hate-deadlines-but-understand-they’re-necessary category? If so, you’ll appreciate this quote:

“One forges one’s style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.”

~Emile Zola

A daily deadline is a form of encouragement for me. I know what’s expected, but I also know that with work, I can accomplish my deadline. When I was a young woman, my first job out of college was as a radio reporter. I had to broadcast a three-minute newscast ever hour. Five days a week, I had six hourly deadlines to meet. And I always did.

Here’s another great quote:

“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”

~Rita Mae Brown

Yes, have you ever had a writing assignment with a deadline? Boy howdy, you’re inspired while working under that deadline. At least if you’re professional you are.

I don’t think there are many writers who’ve never heard of this quote:

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make when they fly by.”

~Douglas Adams

Uhh, yea. Take that attitude and you may never have to worry about another deadline again. Editors expect that when you’re given a deadline you’ll meet it. Blow their confidence in you, and you may never get the opportunity to be under deadline again.

Have you ever heard of Dr. It’s an online site that allows you to write under a time constraint.

The application is called, “Write or Die: Putting the Prod in Productivity.”

To participate, you input your word goal, your time goal (anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours), select the grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil), and select the mode (gentle, normal, kamikaze, or electric shock).

It’s amazing how much you can do when you know the clock’s ticking. I sampled the site on kamikaze mode, and the border around the space where you type glows red if stop typing for too long. And then, believe it or not, your words start to disappear, letter by letter, until you start typing again. That consequence got my fingers flying over the keyboard.

Give it a try, and have fun! Write or Die: Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab

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