Friday, May 18, 2012

Deadly Deadlines (Part 2)

Today I finally realized that summer is almost here.

Well, I mean, it's only May, but that means only a month until summer, which is only about three months long. So, since this is my last summer before I graduate, I wrote out my goals for the summer.

They include:

  • Finishing the first draft of my novel
  • Passing six CLEP tests (two per month)

I especially want to finish my novel by the end of summer so I can do NaNoWriMo in November.

There's something so refreshing about writing out goals. Deadlines can be "deadly" but in some ways they give you more freedom.

Freedom isn't doing something just because you can. Ooh look! I can spend three hours surfing the internet instead of studying.

Freedom is doing something because you want to. I want to write this blog post by Friday, so I will.

So I said that I would talk about different ways to "disconnect your mind from the task at hand in order to give it a break."

There are three main ways I do that (it's Lauren-creates-another-list-time!)

1. Do something else

Obviously if you're an hour from the deadline then this may not be such a good option. But sometimes taking a walk, doing dishes, or doing something similarly mindless can help your mind focus on something else, letting your subconscious do the work for you.

2. Do something creative

Some writers have more than one project at a time to work on so that they can switch back and forth. I like taking a break and playing the piano, which works a different creative part of my brain. I read an article (on the CollegePlus website, actually) on "How to Be as Mentally Acute as Sherlock Holmes." The main idea of the article is that Sherlock Holmes played the violin, which is a great way to relieve stress, improve your mind, and learn discipline and patience.

I've also found that the different creative processes involved in writing fiction and writing blog posts is a nice switch.

3. Take a nap

Okay, this is actually a suggestion from the CollegePlus speed reading and memory course that I had to take. Apparently your brain solves problems while you're sleeping, so if you're stuck while studying (or writing, or whatever deadline you're on) then take a break and sleep. Even if the problem wasn't solved while you were asleep, you'll be a lot more refreshed (unless, of course, you overslept your deadline!)

Also last week I asked how people coped with deadlines. Three lovely readers shared their insights:

From MOV:

Deadlines. Just the word itself has a "deadly" connotation.

In college, I always produced my best work under the pressure of a deadline. I often waited until the last minute, but usually came out with the "A."

Now, with writing my blog, I only write when I have an idea. Sometimes that is every day, sometimes twice/ day, sometimes it is only once/ week. The A to Z Challenge was tricky for me because I did not like that added pressure of having to be "on" and "produce" every day. It is one thing to want to write every day (for yourself), quite another to be forced to (even if it is a voluntary contest).

Generally speaking, I find that most people won't do anything without a deadline. That's why almost everyone is rushing to get things done at the last minute. Like taxes.

I work with a lot of self-imposed deadlines. It keeps me moving.

From Amberr Meadows:

When confronted with deadlines, I become amazingly calm and then divide and conquer. It's almost like I become another person. Weird, I know.

I have to agree with MOV about school deadlines. And Amberr - wow, that's pretty amazing!

And I think Andrew brought up a great point. People won't do anything without a deadline. I think this is true on a far bigger level than just day to day deadlines, either.

If you think about it, life is one big assignment with the deadline being the day you die. An unknown deadline, which makes it even more urgent. A deadline which you can't pass.

Maybe it's kind of a morbid thought, but I think that it really puts life in perspective. We only have a set amount of time on this earth. Are we going to spend our time dawdling and dragging our feet, or are we going to accomplish what we were put here to do?
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

- Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Couldn't resist throwing in that LOTR quote. ;)

Got any plans or goals for the summer? Any other advice on meeting or coping with deadlines?


  1. Deadlines are not my friend but... I do like having "lists" or "goals" that I can cross off that list - that is the best part! LOL!

    Best of luck with yours, Lauren. =)

    1. Yes, I love crossing things off. It brings such a sense of accomplishment!

  2. My main goal, at the moment, is to get all of what I've done so far on my sequel typed into the computer from the notebook it's in before we leave for vacation at the end of June.

    1. I'm writing my WIP in a notebook too, so I'm going to run into that same problem when I finish. :)

      Hope you get it done in time! (and enjoy your vacation!)

  3. Hi Lauren! Thanks so much for your comments! Those always make my day! ;) Oh! and you're sister is a smart girl. ;) (I also love Loki's hysterical grin. I laughed every time I saw it.) Have a lovely day!

    1. Oh, you're welcome, Anna!

      Tom Hiddleton did a great job playing Loki. He looked like he had a lot of fun. :)

  4. What a great post - I love the Sherlock Holmes idea. I might get my keyboard out of storage this summer.

    I was editor of my school's paper, so I got used to deadlines. I thrive under them. I agree with Andrew up there that without deadlines, we wouldn't finish anything. And you're spot on about life. We are living on a deadline, but that's easy to forget sometimes. I have a pin that says "Life is not a dress rehearsal." It always wakes me up!

    1. If it worked for Sherlock Holmes, it may just work for us, right? ;)

      "Life is not a dress rehearsal" - I like that. It's very true!

  5. I like your post. I'm very about about not relaxing. Or taking a break. I just rush on a force solve the problem. Breaks would likely be more help.

    I agree about Fury. Often his quotes had bad words in them. I saw this when I was looking for quotes from the movie. Maybe would be funny, but for the language.

    1. Me too! Sometimes I forget to take breaks and just try to do everything at once. Needless to say it doesn't work so well.

      Yeah, a lot of Nick Fury's quotes had "language," unfortunately. :)

    2. Breaks never go as planned, unfortunately.

  6. Deadlines give as a purpose and motivation.

    1. Yes. We wouldn't really have a purpose without them, would we? :)

      Haha, don't worry about the typo. I misspell things in comments all the time, mainly because I usually do it on my iPhone (autocorrect + tiny keyboard = bad spelling!). Preview mode has become my friend! ;)

  7. Gives US, not as. Yes, I do know how to type.

  8. I'm trying to get a project done before summer, but I doubt I'll be able to... *sigh*

    1. If the Doctor can wipe Donna's memory, forcing her to forget about him and revert to her former, more annoying self, and then travel across the galaxy and face the Master, knowing he's going to die, then you can finish the project before summer Micah! I believe in you. ;)



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