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I have a confession to make: I’m always pushing against my deadlines.  As a semi-professional writer (I write articles for my day job but don’t get a byline…I think the phrase best describes my situation) this is never an ideal trait to have.  And with the blog to keep somewhat regularly updated and various freelancing projects, I’ve always got a piece that’s either in the pipeline or due.  Most likely due.

I don’t have any problem coming up with the ideas for stories, doing the research and legwork, or even actually writing; I just can’t seem to do all that in a perfectly timely matter.  I’ve ranted and raved here before about my habit to procrastinate, even written about not having anything to post because of it.  But this is a little different.  It’s not that I don’t get my articles/essays/fiction in on time (every now and then I do blow a deadline), it’s that I tend to get my stuff in at the last possible minute.

I wish that I could just plan ahead, write something, and turn it in well before it’s due.  Instead I’m always working on a piece literally within minutes of its deadline, and thus not getting a proper head start on the next project—so the vicious cycle continues.  On deadline day, I’m usually running around, muttering “Why do I always do this to myself?!’ while a certain colleague/friend who has already turned his stuff in and posted on his blog (twice!) will cry out “I’m so boooorrreed.”

But there is an upside to it.  I’ve found that pushing hard up against a deadline prevents me from going off into diatribes, fussing over clause packed sentences, or packing too much detail into a description, giving my under-pressure writing a concise and clean feel.  It’s also an adrenaline rush.  There’s nothing quite like turning those feelings of panic and desperation into fuel for manic productivity and the following sense of accomplishment.  And it’s addictive.  But lately, I’ve been thinking about what else I could accomplish if I just managed my time a little better.

I think that the reason that I’ve never REALLY tried to fix this problem is because I was always able to pull it off.  Not matter what, I turned in that paper I started the night before it was due and got at least a B or finished the short story in time for my workshop.  I never had the push to change my ways in a moment where it all came crashing down and I completely failed to get any of it done.  Maybe the fact that I want to change this habit without hitting rock bottom is a sign that I’m growing up.  Maybe this can be the beginning of something new.  Maybe I can move past the thrill seeking and concise writing benefits of running up against my deadlines and finally be the get-things-done-in-advance writer I want to be.

This my Monday post for the blog and I’m finishing it up on Sunday night.  We’ll see how it plays out from here.

[Pic via Fromdistance.com]

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