Time Management and the Dreaded Deadline

By Normandie Fischer
Time slithers through my fingers like noodles slide off
chopsticks. I try to make both work, but life gets in the way of time and those
chopsticks get in the way of a full stomach.

And if time shrinks (or slides on by when we’re not
looking), what happens to our dreaded deadlines?
What do you do when one looms while you’re tackling life issues?
Of course, the super-organized among us will tut-tut and
suggest that we ought to have taken
delays into account and been ahead of the game. Once upon a time, I was that person: researching early to finish
the paper before its due date or studying early to ace the test. When a task loomed,
my motto was “Get up, get it done, and relax later.”
Then I took my perfectionism into the writing life, but I
left my organizational skills on the floor of my editing job. It was easy—it is easy—for me to edit, pare, revise,
and organize others’ tomes or even my own fully realized story. It is
painstakingly difficult for me to plot my way through a first draft in a way
that doesn’t require cut and paste and flip and toss during the rewrite phase.
Take the novella I started last summer while Two from Isaac’s House was in the hands
of its editor. I only needed to write 100+ pages. That’s nothing, right?
It’s nothing for some, perhaps for the gifted writer of
short prose.
I write poetry. Short; concise; full of meaning, sound, and
fury—or delight. Shouldn’t a poet be good at short?
Obviously, this poet wasn’t. Or at least I wasn’t good at it
without a lot of work over a long time. Without a kick from one of my critique
partners. A rewrite. A missed deadline—happily, though, merely a self-imposed
one. (If I’d been under the chopping block, my old habits would have reasserted
themselves, surely, and kept me up nights or roused me at daybreak.)

Thus a story that was supposed to be released in December of
last year will move into the hands of my editor soon. It is now March.
I’m going to blame time. Busyness. Life. And I do have
excuses: a new grandbaby and time dedicated to him, his mother, and his sister. Travel,
illness, chores. Stuff. But I could have written during the evenings or early mornings
or any time at all that wasn’t offered up to the pleasure of being with my
babies.
I am without excuse. The noodles fall off, life intervenes,
but I had choices in each case. A fork, for instance. Or time management.

The push that propelled that novella into completion had
nothing to do with a deadline and everything to do with the tug of another
book. The characters of my next story whispered their worries in my thoughts and
in my dreams. But I couldn’t allow myself to return to them until this one had
The End typed on its final page.

What about you? What do you do with the deadlines in your
life? Do you outline your day, your month, your writing? Do you use a flow chart? Are you faithful in
following through with expectations, either self- or other-imposed? And what
propels you to finish something that’s no longer fun?
I’d love to know how you work, and what tricks you use to
keep focused.

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Normandie studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English. Known for her women’s fiction—Becalmed (2013), Sailing out of Darkness (2013), and Heavy Weather(2015)—she ventured into the realm of romantic suspense with the release of Two from Isaac’s House. In early 2016, a novella, From Fire into Fire, will continue the Isaac House saga. Normandie and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother.

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