Today I’d like to talk about something many artists see as a curse, or at least an undesirable thing. Those dreaded deadlines!
I don’t know how many of my current readers know that I also enjoy writing fiction. More specifically, novels. I haven’t done much of that in the last few years, but there have been times when I’ve had one or two novels in progress, and one or two portraits in progress all the time. More recently, I’ve worked on a novel, a portrait, and a blog post (or two or three) all the time.
What kept me going with such a hectic schedule and a full-time job? You guessed it; deadlines.
Those Dreaded Deadlines
As I mentioned above, I haven’t worked on a novel for a couple of years now. The interest is still there, but these days my writing is given to this blog, a weekly newsletter, CP Magic! magazine, and freelance writing.
So you might think it odd that I’m talking about deadlines as they apply to novel writing. The reason is simple: Deadlines apply to art, too.
Even though I am not currently writing a novel, I still enjoy reading about some of my favorite authors. Joel C. Rosenberg is one of those authors, and I subscribe to his writing newsletter, What’s the Story.
I got the latest issue today (May 18,) in which he talks about his writing schedule. Those sorts of things always interest me because working routines apply to all forms of creativity. It’s impossible to tell where the next great idea will come from whether it’s writing, time management, or encouragement. So I started reading that article with interest, but stopped when I read the following words.
The author’s best friend is the deadline.Joel C. Rosenberg
He goes on to explain that deadlines help him stay focused, make important decisions, and keep working on the current project when maybe something else is more appealing. The closer the deadline, the greater the focus.
The Artist’s Best Friend, Too
That resonated with me because I long ago discovered the same thing about myself. It wasn’t unusual to accept a portrait commission that was due two or three months down the road. Because I had so much time to work on it, I tended to go slow. The closer the deadline came, the more I worked on the portrait. Amazingly enough, I usually did my best work when I was pretty much right up against the deadline.
You know what? That hasn’t changed now that I’m primarily a blogger and magazine publisher. If anything, it’s gotten more pronounced.
Oh, I try to work on blog posts, newsletter articles and other weekly tasks throughout the week. It’s just easier that way. But it’s more often true that I finish these weekly tasks one or two days before they’re due. Sometimes that’s because I’m busy elsewhere.
Sometimes, it’s because I don’t have a topic to write about until right before the deadline. (Who says deadlines are not good for creativity?)
What Dreaded Deadlines Keep You Going?
Deadlines don’t have to be your worst enemy.
At least for me, they have proven over the years to be a valuable asset. Without a deadline, I get lazy about doing the work I should do. Having a target date to aim at adds a sense of urgency to whatever project I’m working on.
If you happen to be doing work for clients or for exhibits, then deadlines can be your best friend, too.
Who knows? They may even add a bit of spark to your creative energies!
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