Deadlines are important… and also scary

Deadlines are scary. I mean, they aren’t just an ending (which is scary enough on its own) they also have quite a provocative name. Dead line, it’s got dead right in there, and I have nothing against lines, paired with a more positive words they sound lovely. Like a puppy line for instance, that sounds adorable. But a deadline is most definitely one of the more menacing pairings it has.

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Yes, not quite as foreboding as a deadline I would say.

Now in university the word deadline was practically a curse word. While everyone was working hard (or not as the case may be) a single utterance of the word would send shivers down every spine. But it also got people working that bit more, the feeling of finality really adds some vigour into one’s workflow.

But back in university that’s a little hard to appreciate. The deadlines come down from the tutor, and there is nothing like scary imposed things from on high that make one think about inciting a coup. I couldn’t really appreciate how much it actually made me get on with things when it was made by someone in a position of authority (that could just be my problem however, I tend to get a bit unreasonable when it comes to taking orders, as many of my school teachers would attest to).

So as soon as I actually got out of uni and began working on my first presentable quality novella, things were a bit harder. Granted I did eventually finish the thing, but without a firm time it was needed by, things would often go a little astray. I would dally around doing general bits and bobs without getting massive amounts of work done, partially due to the fact that I didn’t have that sword of Damocles hanging over me. I wanted to write the thing, but by jove life sure gets in the way of workflow sometimes.

Getting into writing the big honking fantasy books with my mum, she suggested that we set a deadline for ourselves. And I embraced it, liked the idea of actually getting back what I had once loathed because I thought it would help, and it did, but not in the old “Oh my god that is the end of me being able to do it finish, the in charge person will be mad, finish now!” sort of way, as the university deadlines did.

I didn’t really feel the deadline stress as I once had, it did hold fear still, fear of failure, fear that if I didn’t meet the deadline it would prove that I was wrong and I shouldn’t be writing, my dream was a lie or that I was just not good enough to achieve it, silent little nagging fears. But that fear was good, that sort of fear really meant something was at stake that I loved, and it made me buckle down a bit more and get into a routine of work.

I bought a special Discworld calendar to mark down amount written per day and other special writing things. And I just got into a writing routine, making it an everyday occurrence of sit down write and edit. Granted I still dilly dally a bit, life still gets in the way (as I imagine it always will), but stuff gets done, and that was really what I needed.

So deadlines are scary, and if it is something you’re not keen on, and all it ends up doing is make you worry over the deadline, then get annoyed that you haven’t done everything, repeat. Then it probably won’t work for you, but given the right project, a deadline can make a massive difference.

Thank you so much for reading my drivel and getting to this point, and for your dedication and steely resolve I give you this picture of a dead knight from the game Dark Souls. Which is a fantastic dark fantasy with incredibly good environmental storytelling, and lore so deep you could drown a particularly tall giant in it. Also dying is a common occurrence in the game, so fits the deadline topic quite well.

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If you think that looks cool, or are just interested in fantastic environmental storytelling in fantasy, rich lore and a fun difficulty then Dark Souls could be for you, a new one just came out (Dark Souls 3) and I would suggest anyone who is interested to give it a go.

This post’s images were sourced through creative commons and come from Prophetic_Blogger (puppies) and Peter Pham (dead knight)

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