Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My Own Deadlines

As a writer and animator, I'm used to working to deadlines but the only deadlines I find myself failing to meet are my own.

Most of the time such things are not an issue. I set an arbitrary date by which I would like to complete a self-initiated task, such as writing a blog, and attempt to work to that. More often than I would like: work, family or other considerations will lead me to revise these self-imposed deadlines. This is fine, unlike my work deadlines, they are meant to be a flexible guide rather than a rigid cut-off point.

But I got caught out by myself recently. I had planned to write a short seasonally themed story in time for Christmas. It was to be delivered via Twitter as a series of tweets spread over a two week period, which I calculated would give me a deadline around the 11th of December. During November I had a great deal of coursework for my MA, I also had a lot of paid work during the first two weeks of December. To consider this story was probably unrealistic, but as is often the case with me, I used it as a pleasurable thing to wind down in the evenings, after a hard day of doing other things. As the deadline approached I still had a small amount of the story to write. I wanted to get the ending working well, tying up a number of threads, but I had altered the story from it's original outline and I felt the ending should also change. Unfortunately, I also had another deadline for my coursework on the same day, as well as an article I'd promised to complete. I realised something had to give.

In short, I missed my own short story deadline. I did consider posting the beginning whilst I was still writing the end; it's not the first time I've had to do that, but in the end I decided to pull the story. Which, in hindsight, was the correct decision; I had not done enough promotional work for the story and I still wasn't happy with the ending. That I didn't meet my deadline, I don't mind at all; I can revise, and improve it ready for next Christmas; I can deliver it with a more relaxed timeframe and, most importantly, I will have a whole year in which to plan how to promote it. I've also learnt that it is better to not deliver something at all than something done badly.

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