Tuesday, February 5, 2008

No Pressure


This blog has been an interesting undertaking for me on many levels, but particularly in the realm of commitment. I’ve done my best to meet my goal of posting every Tuesday. For the same reason, I take a weekly writing class. I know I have to bring something each Tuesday, 1000 of the best, shiniest words I can produce. Again, the deadline is a casual one. My teacher, Gail, doesn’t expect us to bring something each week. But I expect myself to produce.

There’s a reason for this. I know myself. If I don’t keep moving forward, I’ll slide down the slippery slope of procrastination. I remind myself that, if I had an editor or agent, they’d expect me to be professional and meet the deadlines I’d committed to. And, even better, if I had a throng of adoring readers, I’d need to produce something or risk disappointing the very people I write for. If I disappointed them, I know I’d really be disappointing myself.

My problem lies with having a foot in each of two camps. On the one hand, developing the ability to meet deadlines shows real professionalism. But on the other hand, having no real deadline is a luxury. Like a pampered cat, I have the freedom to rise from my napping place at whim to lap only the richest cream.

The thing is--I don’t believe this works. I’m a person who needs deadlines or I just don’t write. And if I don’t write, my muse gets fat and lazy, wanting to do nothing but watch reality shows and the Food Network. No pressure means nothing to show for myself. In the end, it means watching opportunity pass me by. So I heap on the deadlines. And I bust my butt to meet them. It’s by these baby steps that I move slowly forward.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

The mark of a professional is the determination to avoid stagnation. Anyone can call themselves a writer and put out one story a year. But, it is the dedicated writer who continues to push himself, and who is willing to work under self-imposed deadlines.

This is a great entry, Greta--one that I think every writer should read. This is exactly why I've asked you to hold me accountable on my novel (which I'm still gearing up to tackle, btw). I wouldn't have done that, even setting the one-chapter-per-week requirement, if I knew I didn't need it.

And don't worry about over-stretching yourself in two separate camps. J.A. Konrath does this. So does Tess Gerritsen. Good writers like you can handle the stress.