Monday, April 4, 2011

The Self Impossed Deadline

If you are a writer then chances are you are in your head.  Chances are you are pretty clever.  Chances are you combine these two traits to really screw yourself up. 

But I'm here to tell you that you can also mind*uck yourself in a positive, proactive way. 

Here's my latest example:  I wrote myself a contract to finish the treatment. 

Backstory:  I was one simple draft away from where I think I have a chance to get a real contract (as in paid) for this project.  I've been working with a produce to develop a treatment over the phone for months while he is off shooting a huge movie half way around the world.  It's been a fun and rewarding process, I've learned a lot. 

BUT minutes after our last conversation, where I was filled up and ready to bang this out.  I got slammed with a rewrite on The Assignment and the worst flu imaginable.  Bedridden with a deadline, lovely.

So here I am over a month later and am I filled up?  Am I brimming with confidence and the vision I once had of the finish line?  Nope.  I'm filled up with doubt and fear. 

Why?  I was so close.  Everyone was really excited including big-time producer, managers and myself. 

But here I am, filled with anxiety and fear, self-loathing and two pots of coffee.  The last thing I want to do is go back to this project.  What I really want to do is go back to my spec.

I bet that sounds familiar, no?  If only I could work on this other idea I wouldn't feel this way.  The other one is where the heat is, the other one is the one I'm meant to write. 

Sorry, that's Bullshit!  (Capital letter intended.)

What's really going on here is mind*uck.  (*Normally I'd just say mindfuck but my Auntie is now following my blog and you know, I'm sensitive to that.)  (I've instructed Auntie not to read anything inside parenthesises.)

So here's what's really going on:  I'm trying to remember the finish line.  I'm trying to remember the finished product, but that is impossible.  It's a sure fire way to bring on procrastination or even abandonment of a project.  Trying to see the finish line will only make you lose the race. 

What I need to do is just focus on the next step.  The first step.  Then the next.  And soon that feeling of being full and near will return. 

But how do I get to the first step?  How do I will myself back to something that I've nearly convinced myself I can't do? 

I wrote myself a contract.  I'm great with deadlines, somehow I manage to get it done.  I ask for help with chores around the house, I arrange sleepovers for my kid with the grandparents, I hang up my golf clubs, I focus, I do whatever it takes. And that's the exact type of thinking and action I need to apply to a) The Treatment and b) The Spec.

So in my best legalese, I drafted a document. 

I, writer, hereby enter into an agreement with, myself, to complete the first draft of The Treatment, on or before April 8th...

You get the idea.  And right now, after I hit post, I am taking that first step to reach my deadline.

Stay tuned...  and Happy Writing.


  1. So... how's that deadline coming!


  2. I met it and then took a small and much needed vacation. Back to work today!