To me it reeked of offices, pressure, stress and conventionality. It hurt my organic, creative freedom to such an extent that I practically eradicated it from my vocabulary. Instead I used phrases like “completion date” or “I’ll have it done by this time”. My deadlines were always pretty loose … pretty anti-deadline!
Then I started working as a copywriter. Deadlines were a daily reality. I felt as though I was constantly battling against the clock, forced into a state of high-alert productivity and I have never written so much in my life!
It’s a relief not to be working with that sort of pressure, but the experience has taught me just how important deadlines can be. I now realise that as an artist and creative I am never more productive than when I have a tight deadline. It seems that if I have a short supply of something – money or time in which to achieve a project, I am forced to think of unconventional solutions and find answers buried deep in my sleeping subconscious. Yet, when I have an abundance of endless time or money, I seem to waste an awful lot of it. I get lazy …
Which is cool. I don’t mind being lazy.
Or taking naps.
But sometimes books, projects or works of art need to be finished and when I have a deadline in which to do something, I have to get straight to the point. I am forced to capture the essence of what I’m trying to achieve. I create with less censorship and perfectionism. I stop coming up with excuses as to why I haven’t begun and instead get on and just do it.
One of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury. Whilst working, he found it very distracting being at home with his family. To overcome this challenge, Ray would head across to his local library where, for one dime, he’d hire a typewriter for thirty minutes. Ray Bradbury wasn’t particularly well off at this point in his career so each time he used the typewriters he made sure that he got his moneys worth. An enforced thirty minute deadline made him clarify exactly what he intended to write, then write at breakneck speed.
The novel that Ray Bradbury produced was called Fahrenheit 451 and he completed it in record time. Deadlines help things happen. Okay – so they’re still annoyingly regimental and anti-freedom – but sometimes they are just what we need to complete what we’ve started and free us up to move on to new things.
How do you work with deadlines?
Are you more productive when under pressure?
What’s your current creative project?
If you haven’t got a deadline for completion, I dare you make one!