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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

How-to Friday: Meet a deadline

I've spent the last month in the pages of Leviticus, finishing the May issue for Today in the Word. As is always true when I'm close to a deadline, I consider entering the witness protection program and throwing my computer to the bottom of a deep lake. (I'd probably have to head south for that.) The approaching deadline makes me a master of the avoidance. Compulsively checking facebook. Making coffee. Reheating it thirteen times. Emptying my inbox. This time, I'd also summarily started (and finished) a new television series. (First season of Downton Abbey, uh-huh.) A brilliant plan for someone who doesn't even watch t.v.

Ok, really. The truth is, I'm being diligent, writing a little bit every day, sticking to the schedule I'd mapped out months ago. But it doesn't mean I like it.

Whoever it was that said writers don't in fact like writing, only having written, must be living in my basement.

Here are my (feeble) suggestions for mounting the courage to meet a deadline. They do not, however, include starting and finishing Downton Abbey or any other television series for that matter.

1. Make your plan for meeting your deadline. Schedule your work incrementally, but give yourself more time than you think you'll need. Pad, pad, pad. Think of life's emergencies. Expect to catch strep throat or plan an unexpected visit from your in-laws. (They'll be staying only a week.)  Whatever you do, DO NOT leave your work till the last minute. Procrastination will make you even meaner. And the blood will be on your head.

2. Look forward to doing something amazing after you meet your deadline. Think carrot. Book a trip to Hawaii. Go to Starbucks with a novel, for goodness' sake. Best of all, plan to sleep in. And for at least three consecutive days after your deadline, order take-out.

3. Do a little bit every day. This will feel like building a house with a Fisher Price hammer. Your progress will be excruciatingly slow. But fight the urge to want it DONE yesterday. Rome wasn't built in a day. Or so they say.

4. Ignore all the housework that you can. Walk past your back porch littered with shoes and snow boots. Do nothing about the potted plant that you should have disposed of months ago. Don't bother sweeping up your hair in the bathroom. And keep up with the laundry only to the extent that everything is washed and dried. Do not attempt to actually fold or put away.

5. If a deadline weren't looming, I'd think of five suggestions, not four. But alas, funny and clever are more than I can muster today.