December 11

The Deadlines

I am a professional writer. I take the jobs I’m hired for seriously, and do my damnedest to get those jobs done by the deadlines that are imposed.┬áThere are two kind of deadlines. And I hate both of them.

In my defense, deadlines are natural enemies of writers who tries to get these damn blank pages filled with words and sentences and storytelling. They’re the bane of existence. And they are so because writing isn’t easy. It’s hard. Things that are hard take a lot of time to do. There is rarely that time a writer can get inside of a 168-hour week of seven days. 168 hours that are full of personal lives and a work schedule that can sometimes stretch into 60 hours in any given week. Then there’s family things, relationships whatnot, friend shtuff, and then you’ve got to find some way to sleep at least five hours a night in those 168 hours (at least 35 hours a week for any semblance of sanity. Anyone who doesn’t get at least five hours a sleep in a night, and yes that goes for all human beings, turns into a daggone whackadoo regardless of their profession. Mothers of the world, I tip my hat to you over and over again…no way that shit is easy).

So there are all of those things, and about a thousand things I didn’t mention because you can imagine what they are. So deadlines suck. I was to outline what each of the two deadlines were in that last paragraph, but this writer got all ranty and shittybrained and lost his focus. Looks like I didn’t get my five hours last night!

The deadline that is imposed by the writer themselves is the most dangerous one. It’s the one that turns into a variable. It’s movable, and it rarely ever stays in one place. This is the kind of deadline that is a mirage in the desert to a thirsty and weary traveler. There are times that oasis isn’t ever reached. Unless you’re a writer who doesn’t allow that to happen. And all good writers get most of the deadlines met. Like at least 90%. It helps to have a metric in mind when you become a professional writer. You’ll be able to forgive yourself if you push things back and then really hammer it out at that second or third self-imposed deadline. It’s when six months passes and you’ve completely disregarded all your deadlines that you feel completely inadequate as a human being, much less a writer. There is redemption down the road, however.

In the second kind of deadline, you have much less choice. These are the deadlines that are placed in front of you by ANYONE ELSE. It could be by an editor, your class instructor…anyone really. They have given you a deadline, and you are to achieve the completion of your writing task by this deadline. It’s not something you want to screw with. Sure, a great editor or instructor will likely give you more time to complete the task. They understand the difficulties you’re going through in trying to make those blank pages full and complete to the very best of your abilities. But they won’t be that great for that long. Ultimately, they’ll want a stack of pages or a locked PDF file waiting for them when they say so. Piss them off and not follow through, you’ll likely find yourself without future writing gigs and the money that comes with it.

Money. That’s a big reason we do what we do as writers. To get money. Green. I’m happy to say that I’ve gone through all this nonsense mentioned in this piece. It wasn’t always happy. And it won’t always be happy in the future, as the writing gigs become harder and more complex. But I will do them, because I know how to meet deadlines. I own deadlines, they are my bitch.

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Posted December 11, 2013 by Andrew Flynn in category "Blog

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