Last week, we discussed what creativity craves. Between my experience and reader comments, we successfully debunked the myth that wide open, unstructured schedules are good for creativity. Creativity craves routines, along with a second element I didn’t talk about in last week’s post: Deadlines.
Love them or hate them, deadlines do make a difference in our creative productivity. Having a real date that something is due makes you use the time you have available to be creative. Having a routine builds on that, making the time you have available really clear.
I’ll share with you a very real example on what deadlines can do for your creativity, one I’m living right now: My book on iPhone photography.
My manuscript deadline is March 1, 2015. By March 1, the manuscript and all associated files, releases, etc. must be physically (not electronically) in the hands of the publisher in order to be on the Fall publishing schedule. March 1 is a Sunday, so my real deadline is Friday, February 27. Since the files must be mailed, I need to mail them out no later than the morning of February 25 to ensure they arrive on time. So my real deadline for finishing everything and having it packed up and ready to go is February 24.
Between now and February 24, I have six weekends left. Why do the weekends matter? That’s where the routine comes in. Because I work a full-time corporate job Monday-Friday, weekends are my only opportunity right now for extended stretches of time to work on the book. I could do it in snippets in other free time, but I’m reserving weekday mornings for creating new art and blogging (still have to keep things going here!) and weekday evenings for all of the other little things that have to get done (like framing work for upcoming exhibitions). So weekends it is.
With that in mind, I have mapped out a plan of work that gets me through to the deadline, with weekly goals spelled out. The first draft is done and last weekend I finalized all of the photo examples. Over the next couple of weeks I need to complete the first revision and create the more complicated figures, so I can have an edited copy complete with photo examples out to first readers by the end of the month. It’s a lot, but I can do it without stress if I stick to the plan. I’ve already warned my family – I’m busy every weekend until March 1!
So here’s the equation that comes out of my experience:
Deadline + Routine + Plan = Creative Success
The answer is yes, you can put creativity on a deadline. In fact, I’ve found I’m more creatively productive when I do. How about you?