So, my WIP, such as it is, is indeed still IP.
To date, despite have been writing seriously for some six years, I’ve yet to complete anything novel-length that stands as a fully completed story – a fact that haunts me continuously.
I’d originally resolved to finish my WIP last year by my birthday, which is at the end of November.
I didn’t make that deadline, but consoled myself with the fact that I had an entire other novel to write to finish the story, my previously anticipated duology in fact being a trilogy.
But there’s still something about deadlines – something definitive and binding, which I suppose is the whole point. I almost never set deadlines. I really don’t like them, even though my “type” is supposed to thrive on them.
At my work, we make use a fair bit of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test.
We do this not for the purpose of pigeon-holing ourselves or each other into rigid castes and duties, but to better understand something of our natural tendencies to help foster a positive and productive work environment.
One of the dichotomies of the MBTI (there are four in total) is judging vs. perceiving. This is a measure of how a person organizes his/her life. The characteristics describing each function are as follows:
(prefers a planned, orderly way of life)
(prefers a flexible, spontaneous way of life)
|Control one’s life||Let life happen|
|Set goals||Undaunted by surprise|
|Systematic||Open to change|
This kind of reads like the stereotypical differences between plotters and pantsers.
I don’t need no stinkin’ deadline
My MBTI type is ISTJ (aka, the boring type – the one that never gets invited to parties). As you can see, I have the J in my type, and accordingly should almost never struggle to finish things on time.
And I usually don’t. I don’t even need a deadline, for I’m the type who will begin work on a project as soon it’s assigned, day after day steadily pecking away at it, constantly fussing and tweaking it until I get sick of looking at it.
All that and it will still be finished well before anyone would think to inquire after it, ‘cause I’m that awesome.
Without a deadline.
With a deadline, however, everything changes. Particularly with projects where I don’t have clear sense of how long they should take because the various steps aren’t straightforward or easy to visualize, or are otherwise outside my realm of experience.
Like writing a novel to completion, for example.
I have a problem when it comes to writing: even though I have a very clear idea of where the story is going and all the specific plot points along the way (because I’m a boring ISTJ plotter who doesn’t gets invited to parties), I never know how many words it will actually take me to get to those points.
To the extent that I’ve been telling a friend that an important character “is going to die soon” for three chapters now.
Because I’m not that type of plotter – the type who knows exactly how many words per scene and scenes per chapter, and has outlined exactly which events will happen in which chapters.
My outlines are sorta … freeform. And I’m not even writing from my outline right now.
I’m also a slow writer, which further complicates matters.
The line I fear to cross
Deadlines in situations like this make me panic. They’re like a noose around my neck, or a gauntlet thrown down in challenge.
Yeah, you think you’re hot sh*t at gettin’ things done? Rewire that light fixture by Thursday!
What if I don’t make it? What if something happens along the way to derail me? What if I choke? What if my natural sense of a reasonable daily output is way off target?
Sometimes, this ends up becoming something of a self-fulfilling prophecy; I either get the project done just under the wire with so much mental anguish, it’s nowhere near as good as it could have been (for who can think clearly when under pressure?)
Or I miss the deadline completely, and feel even greater stress.
I don’t like deadlines because they endanger the concept I’ve constructed of myself as a doer and a finisher – as a person who doesn’t need external motivation because I can motivate my own self just fine.
I have no clue how long it will take me to finish my WIP. I’m at the climax now, so presumably it will be “soon”, but “soon” has been my go-to metric since the midway point.
(Okay, let’s be honest: since I wrote the first book of the trilogy back in 2006.)
I would like to have this last book done in draft this year, but I’m running out of year.
And I’m not going to be around for much of the last quarter of it: I have a month-long trip to Australia coming up in November, and will then travel home for Christmas.
Since I’m such a pro-star at writing while on vacation (not), the best option would be to finish it before I take off in November.
The air is already starting to feel thin.
How are you with deadlines? Do they help focus your efforts or are you better left to your own devices? Do you know what your Myers-Briggs type is? Let me know in the comments.