Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, wrote in his book No Plot? No Problem, that the biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline. He says, Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen every time.
I personally think that it’s more like a matter of tuning in the right mindset, but I agree that when you set a due date for a goal, you have a better chance to achieve it. However, you gotta be careful not to get stressed. When we face a huge challenge and we start sweating, our body tends to respond to it by sending us signals, and the brain understands those signals as a command for turning on our defense mode, so we can get ready for danger. But if it happens too often (like it does in our modern life), it can be exhausting and unhealthy.
And the biggest problem as well is that I doubt you can even create something good while your whole system believes you’re in danger. I don’t know about you, but I need peace and quiet to write. Outside and inside. No noise. The only sounds I wanna hear when I’m writing are the whisper of a muse, the dialogues of my characters, and the voice of my mind echoing the words that I type. I don’t wanna hear my brain saying, Watch out! Nor my stress stumping in the attic of my skull, crying like a child, saying, I’m in pain! Gimme a pain killer!
So, it’s good to establish a deadline for your work, and yes, the writing community is very supportive, especially on social media. But if it’s day 3 of NaNoWriMo or whatever writing project you’re committed to, and you’re already crying because you’re not achieving the word count you should’ve achieved, or if you’re stressing out about it, maybe that’s not the best condition for you to create. Or maybe you have to prepare yourself better for that.
Don’t worry. It’s okay.
To commit to a deadline without stress you should’ve done three important things first:
- Write a plan
- Organize your routine
- Find a way to relax before you need it
So, before you jump into a project like that, you should:
- Establish a solid map of your itinerary, and make lists and checklists to have a clear view of where you have to go, how much time you need, and how you’re gonna do it.
- Then organize or reorganize your day so you can make time for everything you put on that list.
- And finally, you need an escape from stress. Before your body starts sending signals to your brain, asking for help, you have to tell it that everything’s fine, you’re good, and you can do it. It can be anything from meditating to exercising. I recommend both, but whatever works for you is great.
What do you think? How do you deal with deadlines? And how’s your stress level today?