Tick, Tick, Tick... (Yikes!)

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
Douglas Adams
English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 - 2001)

For the record, I am not nor have I ever been in Douglas Adams' camp on this one. (Love his books, though!) Deadlines terrify me in a big way. I've never felt invigorated by them, although I have to admit they *do* motivate me, in the way a snapping, slavering Rottweiler on one's heels can inspire faster sprinting.

Someone needs to explain to my publisher that abject terror is no way to motivate the delicate creative psyche. (For the record, I'd prefer flowers, small but tasteful gifts, or perhaps a trail of large-denomination dead presidents sweetly coaxng me toward my goal.) But the trouble is, I can't really *blame* the publisher. Crazy as it seems now, I willingly agreed to the date circled in red on my calendar. All I can tell you is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The truth is, I've actually had the manuscript finished for a couple of weeks or more. I've sent it out for opinions and have spent many days going back over the corrections. A few more tweaks, and I'll be ready...

If only I didn't hear that darned clock ticking in my ear.

So what about you? Do deadlines motivate or scare you? When not on a publisher's or agent's deadline, do you set your own to get/keep you in the habit? Have you ever missed a deadline, and if so, how did you deal with it?


Joni Rodgers said…
I am a purist about meeting deadlines, and I've met a few killers that left me literally weak and weeping after weeks of little or no sleep.

One that always irks me is the Dec 24th deadline. (I've foolishly agreed to that one three times in the last five years.) Like that editor is going to pop out of bed at dawn on Christmas day to read that ms? Bah humbug! On the other hand, the Dec 24th deadline makes me get the job done so my family gets the gift of Mom's full and undivided attention for Christmas.

I'd have to say, I do like deadlines, and I set my own in addition to the ones pressed on me by a publishing schedule. This is a business. My dad used to say, "Plan your work and work your plan." That means setting deadlines and sticking to them, and I try hard to do that.
Suzan Harden said…
Once upon a time, I tried to have tasks done well ahead of time. For some strange reason, several of my teachers considered this a failing. (Seriously. You should have heard some of the parent-teacher conferences.) For a while, I ignored deadlines in order to fit in.

Now days, if I don't have a self-imposed deadline (since I don't have the editor variety yet), I know I won't finish the manuscript. If I miss it, well, it's usually for a good reason, like overestimating my abilities in the face of other, i.e. PTO, imposed deadlines.
Thanks for the responses. Though I don't like deadlines, I'll turn myself inside-out to meet one. Even those deadlines I set for myself.

Of course, there are extenuating circumstances for anyone who happens to be human. Deaths, divorces, serious illness, but barring any of the real biggies (as long as it's an extraordinarily rare event), it's definitely bad business to inconvenience one's publisher this way.

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