I work well under pressure, always have. But I still prefer to steadily work backward from a set deadline – no matter what I’m working on. Big projects at work, short stories, group endeavors, and of course my novels. It is why the slow and steady approach to NaNoWriMo works so well for me and so easily translated to an all-year writing habit. The reality of my life is I’ve usually got about ten different irons in the fire. As long as I juggle all of them effectively I am able to do everything. Hence the overachiever aspect of my life. Focus too much on one thing and others start slipping, so to speak.
I’ve recently put a new iron in the fire with my writing group that requires a lot of coordinated effort from each of us. Something we’ve been cooking up for several years and finally have the resources and know-how to do really well. (Sorry, I can’t share details yet but when I can you know you’ll be the first to know – and it is so exciting!) In working on this project I observed that my way of handling a deadline is not the only effective way. Which got me thinking.
One of my partners called the other side of this coin hyper-focus. Which can be described from my observations as abandoning every other aspect of life to zero in on only the one project with the most pressing or imminent deadline, working tirelessly through to completion. I’ve been chipping away at my to-do list for the overall project for several months while it seemed no one else was worried about theirs. At all. Yet we managed to pull it all together with a big push the past couple of weeks which resulted in meeting our deadline. I’m in awe of those who can do this. Because I cannot. Interestingly, the majority of our group can and do work this way. Minority or not, I much prefer my slow and steady approach. What’s your preference?
Regardless of how you deal with a deadline, procrastination is never your friend. One sign for me that I might have too many irons I’m juggling is when things start slipping. I have a submission deadline next week – mid week. I realized on Monday our family reunion is this weekend, not next like I thought which still gave me plenty of time to prepare. So instead of hanging out at home for a marathon writing weekend to finish up my revisions, I’ll need to be in crisis mode next week to make it happen in time. *sigh* Bring on the coffee and the sleep deprivation! And perhaps I’ll pack that laptop for the weekend trip after all since a little multitasking never hurt anyone. No one will notice, right?