There is no denying the romance and excitement of putting off writing until the last minute.
The rushing, the forgetting, the rising blood pressure. The deadlines, the finals, the late nights. Students gathering for days (or at least a couple hours) in the unfamiliar library stacks cramming for classes they don’t remember attending. Office staff clustered around the coffee machine sharing their surprise conclusion that if they had started their presentation earlier, they wouldn’t be so stressed this Friday afternoon.
Social media doesn’t help. There are no popular images depicting a calm person brandishing a scheduling app happy they finished every project ahead of deadline and now grocery shopping ahead of the crowd. There ARE countless memes featuring crazed creatives working up to the last minute, or rushing to their book signings, or just finishing edits before deadline.. Authors are infamous for our contentious relationship with deadlines, it is part of our story as authors.
But what if crazy, last minute is not part of your story?
If you are bereft of harrowing tales about barely finishing your novel/cover edits/final edits on time, read on.
This blog was born from a comment made by my significant other. First thing in the morning, still sitting in our hotel bed, I announced I had finished my blog article ahead of deadline, indeed, ahead of schedule.
He responded: Of course you did.
He meant it as a compliment, but it was a surprising trigger. I grew up believing that by definition, organized people are not creative. The organized instinct to finish and file turns us into mere accountants – boring, untalented, blocked from the wild ride that is the creative life. Yet I persist, seemingly against the odds and popular opinion, to create.
Maybe you do too.
In the interest of supporting my organized tribe, here are a few ideas about being organized that can enhance rather than detract from your creative pursuits:
More Vibrant Work
Rather than wasting emotions and time on everyday chaos – you have the energy to capture all the crazy that is not your home life and drop it all into your book. Maybe you create a favorite character who can never find his keys.
Create more Product
When you finish work, you have time to create more work. With life under control (more or less) you free up bandwidth to find another passion, create another piece of art. You clear space for the second project because you really, truly finished the first.
More likely to get published.
You research, you complete, you spend the time submitting your work to the most likely outlets. Who knew THAT approach would be successful?
Yes, the wonderful, crazy chaotic artist does get lucky breaks. But the author with a well considered MS and a consistently applied strategy finds her own luck.
Submit better work.
Working ahead allows for more breathing space. Drafts can be put aside for months at a time, allowing for more creative editing and better focus. Not only is time your friend, but your editor will be too.
The slap dash, misspelled, poorly formatted doc (rather than docX, please upgrade your Microsoft Suite) is not as inconsequential as you think. Sure the piece could be brilliant, but if it immediately inspires a sigh, it’s already behind. Allowing time to create not only the best work possible, but also reviewing the editorial requirements, puts us out of the accounting category and closer to the published author class. (I did not say perfect, just better.)
There is no right way to create, organized system can be just as creative, as “right”, as any other approach. Embrace your color coded files, tracked character arcs, and outlines. You have my full support. Because I wrote the draft of this article last July.