Deadlines can be exceptionally useful, and frustrating.  Useful in that they give you a goal, something to aim for.  Without deadlines, many tasks simply would not get done.  Frustrating in that if you allow you deadline to creep up on you, your effort may not be of the highest caliber.

I establish a deadline for my Ramblings of Friday of each week.  I have not met that deadline for several weeks.  Instead, I am pounding away at the keys late Sunday night as my wife sleeps, hoping to put out something coherent for Kosmo before he heads to work on Monday morning.  I believe I have been successful, but also believe that my best work has been when I am inspired and complete my efforts at a more casual pace.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy participating in The Soap Boxers.  I have to be more organized to maintain a writing program to meet my commitments.

I found that deadlines really helped when I participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) last November.  Simply setting numbers of words or chapters helped because it let me know how far ahead or behind I was from my plan.  I succeeded in producing my very first novel.  I am currently working on my second, choosing a completely different genre (the first was a romance, now I am working on a science fiction piece).  This second effort is much harder for two reasons; I have no driving deadline like I did for the first effort, and I have changed jobs which has required significantly more time at the office.

My solution to my writing shortfall is to set deadlines.  Just as in our work situations, deadlines, even if artificial, drive work.  At my work, I have to report on financial progress every week to my direct management.  This effort is to make sure I am ready for a monthly report to a higher level.  Everyone I am talking to already knows what I am going to say, but the constant rehearsal prevents slipping and not being ready for the bigger report.

I am even setting deadlines for chores around the house.  We have to have the vegetable garden planted on Mother’s Day weekend.  Here in Iowa, earlier than that could be a loss of crop due to frost; later, there is not enough time to get some items to maturity.  Now this is an artificial deadline, since we are not good gardeners.  If we get 20 tomatoes out of our 5 plants we get excited.  Whether we do or not, a trip to the farmer’s market at the end of the season gets 20 pounds of tomatoes to freeze and have all winter.

Deadlines for spring cleaning; got the garage done but still working on the basement.  Deadlines for house repair; can’t afford the new windows so starting on wallpaper removal in the formal dining room.  And finally, I am setting deadlines to actually write.  Both for the Casual Observer and for myself.  If you every truly want to be a writer, you are going to have to deal with deadlines.  It is far better to establish them yourself than have them levied against you, they you only have yourself to blame if you miss them.

On a personal note, for any of you who have been following my Ramblings on aging parents the following is a synopsis of the conditions of the people I have referenced.

My father has gotten through his knee surgery just fine and started physical therapy.  He will be using a walker for a while, but should graduate to a cane and hopefully no walking aid within a year.  He will be 80 in October.

My uncle is home from his triply by-pass surgery.  He is 75 and stronger now than he has been in several years.  The surgery has relieved the physical problems.  Sadly my aunt died last year after struggling with Parkinson’s and Emphysema.  No longer having to provide daily care and slowly overcoming his grief has helped his emotional health as well.

My other aunt is still in the hospital after her hip replacement surgery.  She is not doing well.  She is 74 and only retired from working in a box factory two years ago.  Her strength is very low after losing a lot of blood.  Her body seems to be rejecting the titanium bolts that are typically used for this operation.  She can use all of your prayers.

Thank you all for your interest.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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