Indie Life is a monthly feature (2nd Wednesday) sponsored by the Indelibles where indie authors post about life as an indie author. Hop through the links below to see all kinds of post on indie life.
This post ("The Problem With Self-Imposed Deadlines") by Adam Heine prompted one of my typical epic-comments:
I'm a HUGE user of self-imposed deadlines (even before I was an indie writer). Why? Need to control the process and impose discipline, mostly. I know if I don't sit down today and work like crazy (and the next day, and the next day after that...) there is no possible way to hit the deadlines I've mapped out for 2013.
Sometimes the choice is between fast and good, but for me, with my self-imposed deadlines, it's really a race to get to GOOD by a certain date. GOOD is the finish line; if I can't get there by the deadline, the deadline moves... but I'm not a happy camper about it. Which motivates me to work even harder.
I'm also somewhat crazy. Which explains a lot, actually.Once you start selling your writerly work to someone - whether it's readers, agents, or editors - you start to have deadlines. And those deadlines have consequences. If you miss a contract deadline with an editor, you may not get published. It tends to be less dramatic with agents, but if you don't meet their deadlines, they can't do their job of selling your work. Sometimes agents and editors will actually impose OPPOSITE deadlines - delaying the submission of a new work, even if it's ready to go, because they haven't finished trying to sell your first work.
For indies, it's a bit different.
We set our own deadlines. This is a great freedom, and I think I would crawl out of my skin having to sit on a work for a long period of time before publication. I have a hard time waiting, period. (It's a character flaw, I know.) But having this freedom also means that indie authors tend to push themselves to write faster, publish sooner, do it now, now, now. The consequences of missing your self-imposed deadlines aren't agents or editors upset: it's readers who want to see your work. In my mind, this is much, much worse.
I know it's not just me that feels the pressure, but I'm certain I'm one of the worst offenders: I'm a workaholic by nature and the freedom of being indie and publishing at will just feeds that mania. My perfectionist nature is the only thing that puts any kind of brakes on this process. (Hello internal conflict, my old friend...)
I tend to hyper focus on production, getting words on the page and hitting milestones like sending my work to critique partners or copyeditors or making my publishing targets. I create business plans and production schedules like this:
It's a problem.
I'm slowly, slowly coming to understand that creative work has to be nourished with down-time from the production mania. This isn't about writing slower=writing better. I think everyone has their own stride at which they work best, and they have to honor that. This is about feeding the creative well, in addition to flexing the creative muscles with productive work.
For me, this means allowing myself time to watch Bollywood videos until I'm comfortable that I'm hitting the right note with the east-indian part of my novel. Or going on a Romantic Comedy bender, to deconstruct and remind myself how romance works in a story. Or paging through gorgeous art books and trawling through Pinterest pages to discover things like this:
This inspires me.
I still set self-imposed deadlines. It's how I operate. But I'm learning that my best production comes when I allow time for creative reflection as well as wordcount. And that I need to factor that into my schedule, or let the schedule slip to allow it.
And that's okay.
How do you battle the urge to go faster, faster, faster?
Because being Indie doesn't have to mean going it alone.
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