The curse of the blessed deadline

Untitled1Nothing motivates me to do unpleasant tasks that I’ve been putting off like a writing deadline that’s quickly approaching.

Suddenly I find the motivation to take out the trash, do the dishes, mow the lawn, re-texture the bathroom walls, run a marathon, even blog.

I’m cleaning out the gutters in the pouring rain. I drag myself into the house soaking wet and my wife greets me with a one-word question:

“Deadline?”

“Yep.”

[There are times I get the feeling she likes the uptick in my productivity around the house when a deadline looms.]

I’ll do practically anything that will take me away from the blank pages on my computer screen and that blinking cursor whose every tick resembles a chuckle accusing me of foolish incompetence.

On the other hand, deadlines are my lifeline. If they didn’t exist, I’m convinced I wouldn’t finish a single writing project. As it is, I’ve published about 75,000 words in the last fifteen months. That’s three hundred pages, on top of writing for my church and my doctorate.

Deadlines hold me accountable, even when I don’t want to be held accountable. They may feel like the kisses of an enemy, but they are in truth the wounds of a friend. This tips the balance of my love-hate relationship with them in the direction of love.

Mind you, that love comes in hindsight–after I’ve shipped the project.

Writing is work. The words don’t always often come automatically. My muse sleeps most of the time, and I’m left alone in my corner office staring at blank pages. I’m alone with my deadline.

In the end, that’s usually enough to get the job done.

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