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Why You’re Creative: Deadlines

from morguefile.com

Would the great pyramids ever have been finished without deadlines? Or slave labor? Okay, this isn’t the best example

Procrastination helps keep you creative, but its opposite, the deadly hovering deadline, can do the same. Like the Sword Of Damocles, a seemingly bad threat, wielded properly, can drive you toward your goal.

You might already know where I’m going with this. How many times have you gotten an assignment at school or at work, that wasn’t that bad, and had no deadline whatsoever? It’s pretty easy to let it slip for weeks, and you wind up without the time you need, and you throw together a shoddy job. If you’d had just a week, and your supervisor needed the document on her desk at five sharp on friday afternoon, of course you would have taken the time to start it early and finish it at 4:45.

Without deadlines, I know I would have spent my college days slacking off. With a handful of assignments due every day (yeah, I take a lot of credits), I kept working hard and moving quickly on to the next thing. During the summer, despite my best intentions, I tend to waste time on reddit, facebook, and tumblr. Heck, typing out ‘facebook’ just now made me go check my latest status for likes. My only hope is to impose deadlines. In July, I tried to write a novel. I didn’t finish it within the month, but I do have 10,000 more words than I would have without a deadline. On this blog, I always have a post at least every other day, and I’ve been aiming at getting in 20 per month. Creativity needs constants.

Many people think of the creative soul as someone who has complete freedom to think of anything and imagine entire wonderlands. But the more constraints, the better the creativity often is. If I’m stuck on a creative question, I’ll even add constraints — could this ad be reenacted entirely by llamas, for instance? But the deadline is the ultimate and best constraint: without it, you might never feel the pinch to deliver the final product, and without a result, all your ‘creativity’ is useless.

Do your creative self a favor right now: think about all the deadlines in your life, make up some more, tell your friends to yell at you if you fail to meet them, and scare a little creativity into yourself.

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