This week I have been back in Australia catching up with friends and family (and, more importantly, my beauty therapist and newly acquired travel agent). I stepped off the plane and into my mother’s state of panic – that lovely kind of final-essay-due-tomorrow panic. I have been helping Mum with her essays this semester as she gets back into study mode however I had forgotten what that “last-minute panic” state looked liked. Fortunately, she finished them on time (the last were emailed twenty minutes ago) and has gone out to celebrate while I sit at home with dye in my hair and a cat on my lap (my, how the tables have turned).
It’s easy to forget the things we’ve been through, to sympathise with others who are going through something we easily dismiss as “been there, done that, you’ll be fine”. I sometimes forget the panic I felt the night before my exams, or the complete melt down I would have when an essay due date was looming! Aside from the eternal due date my Masters dissertation had (if I had been given a strict no-nonsense due date, maybe things would have been different and I wouldn’t have taken so long), I’ve been pretty good at submitting assignments – even if they were finished at 4.58pm and emailed at 4.59pm on the due date.
Just as I had forgotten the frustration of learning to write, I had forgotten the frustration of due dates and referencing and those moments of “OMGTHEWORLDWILLENDWITHESSAYS”.
And yet … there’s a thrill associated with deadlines. Meet a goal – beat the deadline – and you cheer and pop champagne and celebrate with a fancy dinner. You have a sense of triumph, achievement, pride – no matter how crappy the finished product might be,it’s finished.
My life is lacking deadlines. I set myself goals, but they don’t feel the same. I’ll reach the goal one day, maybe, but not today – not this week, probably not this month.
A deadline, thought … ah, for a deadline you move mountains. You panic, you stay up late, you refuse to do anything else until it is done.
My writing wish for you this week is for you to make a goal for your writing and set a deadline. If you want to write a short story every week, make sure you have a short story in your hands every Monday evening. If you want to finish your novel, give yourself a deadline for the first draft. Be specific – you’re not going to finish a novel “by September”, you’re going to finish your novel “by October 31st 11:59pm”. Write your deadline in your diary and go into total panic until you have your finished product ready to wave in your deadline’s face. Take that, deadline!