Deadlines. I hate deadlines.
They scare me actually.
But they are very important for one simple reason. Without them, I would and could work endlessly on any project. No joke.
I’m reasonably sure that this is a common problem in almost any career and not just the creative ones, but the underlying issue of quality in creative works can drive you mad. It starts on the crazy idea that you can produce high quality on a tight budget in frighteningly fast speeds… and usually ends on you missing the publishing date all because you got stuck on that one keyword. Quality.
Since I can get lost in the idea that if I worked just a bit longer, fixed this little thing, did that, moved this, the product would be perfect and there would be a sample of work that I can stand by and say, “Hey, I did that!”… But the truth is, I shouldn’t let perfectionism be the enemy of good enough. Especially since the persuit of it can cause me to pull many an all nighter and work over weekends on top. It’s not a fun way to live your passion.
This is why I’m talking about deadlines despite how much I hate them.
Deadlines are how you can get past the mad hatter inside your brain shouting that it could be better. Deadlines are the way you can get by on good enough because once you’ve past your deadline then that’s it. Game over. Your project is done.
Yes, you could fub your way past it and complete the project after the deadline. But why should you let yourself? Especially when it comes to your own personal projects.
Often in life most deadlines can be worked past it’s date, after all, delays do happen all the time but the real question is, do you really want to spend that much time at work? After all, your life is on a deadline in and of itself if you really stop to think about it.
One day, your personal deadline will up.
You might not know when, but it will happen and there is no fubbing past that. Why should you be treating your projects any different? Be prepared to have your project die the moment you cross that marker, because if you don’t think of it as an absolute in your mind then you will always keep fubbing that line and continue to work furiously until you either break down or take so long that the project itself is no longer useful.
As someone who read a lot of “Kill your darlings” in many books on how to write fictional stories, I think I’ve come to understand that that phrase is true beyond making a book.
So let’s readapt the words a bit. Kill your projects.
Yes you heard me. Kill your projects. Stop caring about how great it could be if you spent more time, because its not.
You’ll be much happier that you moved on to your next project since 90% of your work you won’t really look at again for years. Go for consistency over quality. Because through consistency you will discover your quality after each project.
This is the reason why we have festivals and film contests with criterias and deadlines. Because every filmmaker and creative artist knows that the epic story they are creating will rarely live up to the imagination without enough time, and with too much time we’ll drown ourselves in a pithy of “It could be better.” Rarely do we achieve both.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve or get better at your craft, but it does mean that you need to know when your done and move on.
So what’s the best way to do that?
“Don’t keep living past your deadlines.”