Missing deadlines and justifying behavior.

So this is what happens when I miss a few deadlines.

This week, I missed four self-imposed deadlines, all having to do with this blog. I didn’t put up a Friday Recommendation last week, or a Monday Prompt this week, or the two promised Wednesday posts on reporter’s questions about your writing habits. The plan is to go back and put them in place so as to keep up with our consistent numbering system, though I’ll toss in a little “This post was retroactively placed here” sort of disclaimer to be fair. All of this does have me thinking about one question:

Who’s stopping me from blowing a self-imposed deadline?

Me. There are certain deadlines I have to meet. I have to pay rent on time. I have to have essays graded so students can revise them in time for their next due date. I have to finish a short story in time for a workshop if I want to be included in the next round of stories. These sorts of deadlines are put on me by other people, so I have a tendency to stick to them a lot easier than self-imposed deadlines. With those, it’s easier for me to justify behavior that doesn’t get things done. Oh, what’s one week’s worth of missing blogs? Oh, what’s one more day off the exercise bike? Oh, what’s one missing hour of ukulele rehearsal? Oh, what’s just one more double cheeseburger? Oh, what’s a measly ten dollars on another DVD?

I know the answer to those five hypothetical questions. It’s me not giving my readers what they deserve. It’s me not supporting myself like I deserve. It’s me not 100% preparing myself for a show. It’s me not embracing a lifestyle change. It’s me not saving money for my wedding. All of these self-imposed deadlines have one thing in common – they address a plethora of small, specific short-term goals which all feed into a handful of large, important long-term goals. I write the blog to better my writing – if I’m not writing it, I’m not helping myself. I work out and eat better for my health – if I don’t, things will stay on a downward slope. I practice ukulele because I have shows coming up – plus it’s fun, so I should make time for it. I save money because weddings cost money – it’s no longer in the distance; it’s practically just around the corner. Yet these points are often met with justified behavior. But you know what?

‘Justification’ will kill your creativity, if you let it.

To be fair to myself, this has been a really busy week for a variety of reasons: extra essays to grade, extra projects at work, a handful of improv shows after not doing shows for a while, my final comprehensive exam for my MFA is on Saturday morning, and so on. In a way, my life sort of interrupted my life. Don’t take this as justification, dear reader, rather think of it as me being honest with myself in a public setting. Everything I did and everything I missed is important to me – I just wasn’t able to give everything the time and attention they deserved in one overly-busy week.

My apologies to any reader who missed my intended posts this week; they’ll be up soon. Apologies to me for allowing justification to take over some of my recent decisions; I’m going to try to put justification aside for a while. Apologies to justification, but it’s just not working out. We’ve had a good run, and I know we’ll probably see each other again, sometime. But our relationship isn’t going to be the same. It’s not you, it’s me.

Help a writer know he’s not alone in the fight against justifying behavior – have you faced this abusive lover, too?


[tags]missing deadlines, justify behavior, lifestyle change, ukulele, improv, killing your creativity, what’s important to me[/tags]

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