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Are Your Deadlines Destroying Your Creativity?

As I’m writing this, I am once again, incredibly conscious of my scheduled deadline. And it’s making it almost impossible to write anything which isn’t promptly deleted in a bout of furious backspacing.

Every second Monday, for almost a year now, I’ve managed to produce and upload an article like clockwork, against all odds. But I am not a machine. I have bad days. I get writer’s block. I procrastinate. I lose motivation.

And nobody ever said that writing was supposed to be easy.

The point of this article, then, is to determine whether my deadlines have helped or hindered me since I started this blog. And hopefully, those of you reading this will find my analysis somewhat useful.

Well Defined Deadlines or Added Flexibility?

First, let me comment on the timeliness of this article for me as I have recently committed to write a one hundred pages in one hundred days for a TV adaptation. That’s the hard target.

I know from experience that a timeframe as long as this creates a false sense of security and have rightly narrowed the parameters in order to track my progress more accurately.

What does that mean? It means that in lieu of writing a page a day for one hundred days, I’ll be looking to produce seven pages in a week or thirty pages in a month, giving me the added flexibility I know I’ll need to meet that all important, and admittedly herculean, project deadline.

However, this comes with a caveat.

The uncertainty created by setting less well-defined deadlines means I’ll have to be especially productive on days where I need to catch up — an eventuality I am currently hurtling towards with each word I type.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

I realise that writing a TV miniseries is quite a bit different to writing a relatively short article and the predicament I’ve just described is entirely of my own making.

The key point I’m trying to make is that managing deadlines ultimately comes down to managing your time, priorities and mental wellbeing.

So keep that in mind whatever your situation and whatever project you’re working on. The last thing you’ll want to do is burn yourself out physically and or emotionally.

Stress and Creativity

The popular trope that a creative genius must suffer for his or her art is predicated on there being a causal link between the two. And I believe there is one in every instance a person has created a work of art; be it a painting, an illustration, a script, etc.

It’s this struggle that forces us to adopt a deadline style — a necessary evil — with the ultimate goal of creating something that is Finished Not Perfect.

Don’t Give Up

The only time I typically consider having any sort of deadline to be a bad thing is if it sets me up to fail from the outset, or if it ever becomes unrealistic due to various factors outside my control.

That said, I never would have been able to keep my blog up to date over such an extended period of time if I hadn’t stuck to a self-imposed schedule.

So to end, I would argue that deadlines do not destroy anyone’s ability to be creative, but they do typically adversely affect one’s sense of progression under pressure.

Hardly a reason to give up though don’t you think?

Best of luck!

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