The blog of author Harper Alexander

Deadlines – Helpful or Harmful?

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I’m pretty sure we all know that we writers are known for procrastinating. Thankfully, a big part of the job actually is the day-dreaming, the lounging-around-brooding-and-imagining-without-actually-writing. However, there comes a time when the writing itself NEEDS to be done, especially before you get so carried away with the imagining part that you imagine your way right into another story before finishing your current one.

There are a couple ways to go about buckling down and getting the real work done, but I want to talk specifically about deadline-setting. Is setting deadlines for yourself a good way to ensure you write as much as possible every day, or does the pressure stunt your creativity? I have found both, depending on…I don’t know what. But sometimes it really seems to spur me to action, and other times it just completely kills the spark.

Sometimes, I think setting deadlines helps me in a way that actually has nothing to do with the pressure. It’s almost as if, if I set a deadline, I suddenly feel like a professional, and that’s sort of liberating and fanciful and makes me want to get up in the morning and get dressed in some snazzy office/secretary attire and ‘go to work’, the same way such a thing appealed to me as a kid play-acting that I had some cool, grown-up career.

So sometimes that works for awhile, but by and by I get in a funk and just want to kick off the shoes and put my jammies back on, and revert to the lazy dreamer, because the deadlines and stiff clothes and mechanical words just start to feel like a joke. Like a sham. Like a stuffy essay when it’s supposed to be an epic journey. Something that might get an A in class, perhaps, but would merit only the dullest of fans.

So I’m curious what mayhem deadlines wreak on other writers, or if they actually help you channel what’s swirling about in your head needing to get out.

Any thoughts?


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