Joy can be found in the strangest places. Sometimes joy is an afternoon with nothing to do and nowhere to be, and sometimes joy is all about deadlines. At first hearing, this might not make sense. How can a deadline be joyful?
Deadlines can impose a sense of order on a large project and cut through the tangled weeds of perfectionism. If something absolutely, positively has to be done by a certain date there’s less time to dilly-dally, less time to fret about whether everything is exactly right.
I’ve given myself some deadlines for the near future, and I’ve reinforced them by telling a few of my friends who will hold me accountable. My biggest deadline involves the novel I’ve written. I plan to have it revised and out to my first batch of helpful critics by October 1st. I feel relieved.
It can be so easy to set personal goals aside when the laundry needs to get done, the bills have to get paid, and the chaos of the nine to five drags you down. It’s taken me forever to revise amidst these distractions, and I’m tired of it. I set a deadline and I’m sticking to it.
It makes sense for me, anyway. I started writing the novel with a set of daily deadlines. My life was in turmoil, my friends urged me to write a novel, and I told them I didn’t have time even as I turned in homework for a writing class I was attending. I would never skip homework, because I’m that kind of girl. I just couldn’t.
Voila! My friends—I call them the Evil Homework Twins—assigned me homework. I had to write two sentences a day on the novel. I could write more, but not less. The two sentences didn’t have to be good, or long. I recall that one day I even wrote So. There. and considered myself done.
Yay! Deadlines and Yay! Homework. Those few sentences eventually turned into about 88,000 words and a whole novel. By the end of the month I’ll even start letting a few people read it so that I can get some feedback. Then it’s on to the next project, and the next deadlines. It’s a very joyful proposition.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
179. What would you like to get accomplished? Set some deadlines, tell some friends who will hold you to them, and get started. Were the deadlines joyful for you?