I’ve been pondering lately about the power of deadlines. They are rather tricky blokes, aren’t they? (I’ve been reading several blogs from the U.K., the British are influencing my speech.) Deadlines can be good and bad, motivating and oppressive, and occasionally pointless or absolutely necessary. Where they become even more questionable, is when you place the burden of a deadline on yourself instead of someone else doing it for you (i.e. school, work). I would argue that self-inflicted deadlines are what separate the achievers from the spectators, the doers from the dreamers, and, yes, the crazy people from the people-who-will-call-you-crazy.
My 13-year-old daughter is about to host her very first craft fair table at a festival. Two years ago, she had a mild interest in sewing, took some classes, and, with moderate encouragement, decided to make multiple somethings to sell. The idea started without any deadline to shoot for. First she piddled with a few Teddy Bears and tote bags, but after making self-designed stuffed monster pillows for Christmas gifts, she found her niche. She signed up for a festival booth at the beginning of summer, made almost 40 monster pillows and several sets of mother-daughter aprons, designed a booth with Dad, and now we are five days away from show time. Oh, and she came up with a name for her product (with a little help from me); the monsters are called “Pillow Frights.”
Pillow Frights. Get it? Instead of “fight”? I had to explain it my husband. (shaking head)
This morning, I inquired about her preparations:
Me: On a scale of 0-10, how hard has this been to get ready?
Me: Really? That bad, huh?
Hannah: If I hadn’t signed up, I would have picked another fair later on and had more time to get ready.
Me: Oh, please. You would have done the same thing. Aren’t you proud of yourself?
Hannah: (awkward smile) I guess.
Me: Well, I’m proud of you!
I am absolutely convinced that signing up for the festival is what made her move. It made her sit her cute little butt down at her sewing machine, turn on some music, and SEW. Did she have to? No. But without it, I think she would have chosen other (electronic) pastimes instead of buckling down to get it done. A later festival would have just shifted the work over by a few months, but would have still been a painful “10.”
Don’t we all do that? Whether set in stone or tentative, deadlines move us. Outside of work or school, I have to set rigid deadlines or sign up for events or competitions with end-dates. I know each time I meet with my very, very helpful beta reader, we both have two chapters critiqued. I look for free short story competitions with submission deadlines to help motivate me to write regularly; otherwise I might just edit my novel until doomsday. I know when the next #Pitmad is on Twitter, so I have a date set to have my manuscript ready to go in case any brilliant agent thinks my book sounds amazing—I’ll be waiting.
And the reason I haven’t cleaned out my dried-up tomato garden yet is because I haven’t set a deadline. Oh sorry, it’s not on the calendar, guess it will have to wait.
Got any self-inflicted deadlines looming? Tell me about them! (After you look at this awesome picture of Hannah and her Pillow Frights!)