Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Deadlines

How appropriate is it that the "Monday on My Mind" on deadlines is late? lol. It's still Monday in California. :)

Anyhow, I'm now physically sick. On Friday, I started sneezing, which I'm used to, because I breathe allergies, but I knew it was a cold immediately. Then Saturday was sore throat. Sunday, sore joints. Monday, went to the doctor, came home with 5 meds, and then promptly sneezed and alienated my left ear, which is currently alternating between pretending it's diving the Mediterranean and being drilled for oil. I fully expect to lose a leg tomorrow. Will make walking to work very difficult.

Speaking of work. Was off yesterday, and off again today. Not scheduled. Took the days for Death Cold's sake.

So, my weekend. I watched:

8 eps of anime (Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto Shippuuden)

4 eps of Punky Brewster (Is it bad that I haven't seen these since the original air date in 1985, and yet I remember them? This makes Punky Brewster my earliest memory... There's a psychological study in there somewhere.)

3 eps of Gossip Girl ("We don't need tickets. I'm Chuck Bass!" So, I want to be rich just to say that!)

11 eps of Dawson's Creek (We didn't have it growing up- which sucks because I was the 'same age' as the characters. But, it seems, I still am. lol )

Anyhow, deadlines.

Do you work well with them or not? Deadlines help me under a very specific set of conditions. Let's examine a few cases.

1. No deadline

I suppose there's always a deadline if you really think about it. What you really mean is: "I want to be an author before the end of my life." But end of my life is such a fuzzy way out there concept. It's not just the timeline that's fuzzy either. What do you mean by author? A short story in an online magazine? A book every year for as lon as you live?

Some people are fine working in this framework. They prefer that there's no pressure and are good at motivating themselves to do things towards their goal. These are the type of people who decide that they're going to lose weight and just get up the next morning eating right and working out, and by the next year they've lost 100 pounds.

This is not me.

2. Long-term deadline

Goals that start with "in a year" or "in 5 years" etc. Goals where you can break up your path into manageable chunks. "I'll do X every day, month, week..." and "I'll be at Point Y, by time Z"

I think many people work well in this framework. Say you want a publishable novel by November 15, 2011, you might set yourself the following plan.

First draft complete: December 31 ( which really means December 24, because who are you kidding? You're so not working during the holidays.)
Let it rest until: March 1
Plot revision until: April 1
Line by line until: June 1
Crit partners until: July 1
Crit revision until: August 1
2nd round crit until: Sep 1
2nd crit revision until: October 1
Let it simmer until: November 1
Read through and final changes until: November 15

Having never been through the entire process, I have no idea if this is reasonable. But the plan looks kind of sexy doesn't it?

And breaking it up into mini-goals can help keep you on the straight and narrow.

This also doesn't work for me.

3. The short-term deadline

Like the long-term deadline, only shorter. You've got a month to... For example, college semester-long course are short term deadlines. In 3 months-ish, you have to do X, Y, Z.

Many people also do well with these deadlines. I'm not too bad with these.

But where I really excel is the

4. Seriously, is that even possible? deadline

I work well under a deadline that the whole world thinks is slightly impossible. In fact, all my deadlines eventually turn into this type of deadline as I ignore them until it's nearly impossible to get the work done. University undergraduate thesis in 3 days? Yeah, that's my specialty. (And, yes I actually did. Got a B. Would have gotten an A if I actually had time to revise, but I can never seem to work like that.)

Now, you might wonder what this is leading to. Nanowrimo of course. 50,000 words in 30 days- that's a nearly impossible goal, right? Nopes. Not for me. That's a short term goal. 1,667 words is doable. I doubt there are many of you who couldn't write that much in a day.

"Is that even possible?" is the way I write nano. I always take at least 8 days off. It's not something I aim to do. It's just that after a while, the pressure eases up. Like I said, 1,667 is doable. (I totally haven't written in 8 days- I'd love to blame the cold, but I stopped 4 days before it started. Maybe I felt it coming?)

I get serious when the word count does. Ack, 4,000 words a day? Time to start again.

By the way, I always "win" nano. This madness works for me. (I'm thinking of doing a half-nano in March. 152N, I think I'll call it: 15 days 2 a Novel.)

How about you? What type of deadline works for you? Specific goals in manageable time slots? Big fuzzy concept in uncertain time? Or unholy hell, what was I thinking when I decided to do this?

And on a completely random note:

Leann Hunley, who plays Ms. Jacobs in the first season of Dawson's Creek, but who you might know better as Dana from Dynasty or Anna from Days of Our Lives, grew up with Edward Cullen! Yups, she's a native of Forks, Washington. Before the Twilight franchise, she was the only famous person from Forks.

Also, come out Thursday for our first AGENT interview! Yay!


Margo Kelly said...

Ha. Loved this post, but sorry to hear you are sick. We've tried a new remedy, and it has worked wonders. Liquid Silver. Really. I was a doubter, too, but it has actually worked. First for me, then my hubby, and then it kicked my son's cold in the butt.

We're using: Silva Solution Advanced Liquid Silver by TriMedica.

No, I don't get a commission... I'm just blown away by the results.

Feel better!

Margo Kelly said...

Hey - BTW - I left you an AWARD on my blog... go get it!! WAHOO!

Marsha Sigman said...

Sorry you are sick! I feel your pain...

I don't really set deadlines but I have to set some goals or I would never get anything done. You are way more ambitious than me.lol I try to get so many pages done in a week so that I can hit a monthly goal.

Also, totally weird that chick from Dawson's Creek came from Forks. I love trivia.ha Hope you feel better soon!!!

T C Mckee said...

I'm right there with ya girl. I've been sick all weekend. All I remember watching was Three men and a Baby on HBO and Sense and Sensibility on Encore. I'm like-out there wild, I know. Loved the post. Hope you're feeling better.

Bea said...

Hi there!
A google alert for my favorite actress, Leann Hunley, brought me to your blog but once I started reading I really enjoyed what you had to say!
I'm right there with you... I'm also the kind of person who "ignores deadlines until it's nearly impossible to get the work done"! Just did it again last week when I had to learn 20 pages + read 3 chapters for my biology test. Did it from Sunday 10 PM till Monday 6 AM, and got an A! 97%. I was stunned myself that my brain works so well under this pressure. Are you the kind of person who regrets to ignore deadlines and then has to do such a crazy amount of work and always promises to yourself to NEVER do that again... until the next deadline comes along? Coz that's me. I was at a point where I almost started crying coz I feared I could not do the "impossible", had to calm myself down and then just kept going on until the job was done. And now I say "Next time I won't wait until the last minutes" but seriously, I should know better. ;o)
Anyway, cool blog. I'll keep reading.
Sincerely, Bea