Monday, July 9, 2012

Oops, I did it again. (or, the art of making deadlines)

At 10:45am this morning, my self-imposed arbitrary Labor Day deadline for the first draft of this new play became no longer arbitrary.  I am now accountable to someone besides myself (and the readers of this blog) to complete it by then.  I just learned that I have been granted a work-study position for a rewrite class at ESPA-Primary Stages in the fall.  A rewrite class.  Which means I need to have a play I have already written so that I can start re-writing it. That class starts September 11.  8 days after my self-imposed Labor Day deadline.  No sweat.

There be folks would say I'm nuts.  Why on earth would I sign up for a rewrite class when I have barely started writing the play?  Or why would I schedule a reading and book actors for a draft I have yet to complete?  Or why would I book a performance for a cabaret show my performing partner and I have yet to put together?  There seems to be a trend here.  This is something I do a lot -- at least in the last 4 years since I started creating and producing my own works -- and I must say I find this tactic extremely useful (if at times nail-biting and stress-inducing).

The predominant benefit for me of this (perhaps more than) slightly nutty practice is that it helps me make choices on a daily basis.  When confronted with choices for how to spend my non-teaching time - do I do this audition?  Do I go for a bike ride? Do I take a nap?  Write in my journal?  Write in this blog? Practice, do research, do laundry or go grocery shopping?  -- when I have a limited amount of time and too many things that *need* to be done, having a deadline like this makes prioritizing much simpler.  Like today, I chose to stay home and start transcribing the scenes I wrote during the writing intensive instead of going to the library before I started teaching.  The library is something that must also get done, but I'll do it later today.  For now, I need to feel myself getting work done, now that I know that finishing the play by Labor Day is no longer optional.

So if you're a procrastinator who has trouble self-motivating, I recommend you try this trick sometime.  Sign yourself up for something where you are accountable to an outside force, to force you to get the thing done that you want to get done.  You might surprise yourself with how much you can get done when you have to risk disappointing someone other than just yourself.
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