Did you ever feel like Mr. Ant in the picture here? Like you have the goodies, but they are awfully hard to carry? For a writer, there is nothing quite like the pressure of a deadline. In this business, it is typically feast or famine, so you are either jammed with work–or doing nothing. Keeping your cool under the pressure-cooker of deadline hell can be a challenge, but organization and a few other tricks can save you from insanity.
It’s my current situation that inspired me to take a moment to write this post. I have three large projects, all due in about a week. I also have workers in my home doing everything from drywall to replacing windows. Yesterday, I got a call from an editor with a project that she wanted done in a couple of hours. It just so happens that my electric was off for the day and the battery on my laptop was really low. I took it anyway and managed to complete it just in time.
The house has been chaotic, but mapping out a plan has been my saving grace. I came up with a schedule and built in extra time because I knew it was going to be a little rough. Headphones can help drown out the noise. An extra pot of coffee in the afternoon helps get me over the hump. Most importantly, I have been going to bed earlier so that I’m alert and awake for the morning.
The most important thing in terms of preparing yourself to meet a tight deadline is to know your weaknesses. Mine is lack of sleep. All the hammering and other noise pales in comparison to the fog in my own head if I’m tired. Since I am aware of this, I try to make sure that I wind down earlier and use coffee as my crutch when I feel the bottom dropping out.
So what is your thing? Whatever it is that prevents you from operating at your best will become your worst enemy when a deadline is looming. Take a moment to name it–and then you can address it so it doesn’t beat you up. It may not get your piece written for you–but it will help you get the job done!