This post is a little late today because this morning was my first deadline of the semester. Today I submitted (roughly) 10 000 words to my mentor, which is double the amount I submitted last year at this time.
I chose to double my workload this year because I want to have a first draft of my book completed by Christmas. This means that I've become pretty anti-social and it also means that I've spent a lot more time banging my head against my desk, tearing out my hair, and screaming "This is hard!".
This deadline has been the most challenging one of my MFA so far, and not just because of the amount of work I had to submit. The real challenge was that as I worked and worked and the deadline got closer and closer, I didn't really get any happier with the material.
I revised these chapters a lot, but no matter how much I changed, something about them doesn't feel right. I spent the last two weeks revising, only to get more and more frustrated because I didn't really feel like I was getting anywhere.
Finally, I had to do something for the sake of my sanity. (And to avoid giving myself a permanent bald spot from all the hair pulling.)
What did I do?
I gave into the deadline.
I had to accept that there are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days until the deadline. I accepted that the deadline would come and I would have to submit what I had done up until that point, whether I was happy with it or not. I stopped resisting the impending pressure of the deadline. Whether the chapters were perfect or not, the deadline was there for a reason.
This may sound strange, but I found it somewhat liberating. I think if I boil it down what I'm really talking about it letting go of perfectionism. I'm not done with those chapters but I'm so grateful for this deadline because it forced me to accept the imperfections and move on. I'm grateful that I don't have to keep plugging away at these chapters when I feel like I'm getting nowhere. I've submitted them and now I can move on to new chapters until it's time to revise these again in a couple months time.
This month, I let the deadline free me from perfectionism.
How do you deal with deadlines? Are they friend or foe?