Why you should get out from behind the writing 8-ball

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Do you leave everything until the last minute? That’s a mistake! Instead, you should always plan your writing time…

Until about 10 years ago, I lived my life perpetually behind the eight-ball. In school, I delayed writing essays until the day before they were due. For my career, I chose journalism where I had to write and edit under relentlessly intense deadlines. Even when I married, I found my dress only a week before the wedding. And honesty compels me to add that while I bought my (fancy) wedding blouse the week before, I had to have a matching skirt made, which I picked up only the day before.

If you want to talk to me about leaving things ’til the last minute you need to know that I’ve already written an encyclopedia on the subject.

Living behind the eight-ball can be exciting but it’s also stressful. You end up feeling panicked much of the time. You can’t possibly make all the tweaks and corrections the ideal you would like; instead you have to be satisfied with simply finishing on time, rather than late. The coulda, woulda, shouldas can be both unappeasable and excruciating.

Why did I live that way for so long? I wish I knew!

Planning ahead of time is ever so much sweeter. I wrote this newsletter, for example, on Thursday, May 17. Yesterday was a holiday here in Canada and my husband and I went away for the long weekend. I didn’t want this newsletter sitting on my shoulder while we walked the beaches of Tofino!

Of course, writing is only part of the job with this newsletter and not the hardest one. For me the true challenge is coming up with the idea. I did that last Wednesday. And, in fact, I’d actually scribbled myself a note about the idea some six weeks ago, following a conversation with a friend. So, you can see, this column has already a long history.

Furthermore, my Thursday writing deadline was not extraordinarily early for me.  While I don’t always manage to squeeze out a first draft by Thursdays, I try to. And I usually have draft #1 by no later than Friday. Over the weekend, I send it to a friend for a quick edit. After receiving her notes I tweak the column, find a photo and post it on Monday mornings. No panic. No sweat.

It’s a darn good thing I figured out this system before I launched my blog in March. While this newsletter is always the Tuesday edition, I also write entries for four other days of the week. I am now so allergic to writing in a panic that I have an inviolable schedule etched on my brain:

Every Friday, I determine ALL of my subjects for the coming week. I even create little WordPress entries with a few notes about each topic.

Then, on Fridays, I write the Monday blog.

On Mondays, I write the Wednesday blog.

On Tuesdays, I write the Thursday blog.

On Wednesdays, I don’t write for you (or me); instead, I write for a client.

On Thursdays, I write the Friday blog.

As I was saying to a coaching client today, it’s surprising how often writing becomes an issue of simple arithmetic. Give yourself some small, reasonable goals. Do them. And then you won’t be behind the eight-ball any more.

I just completed a Google search looking for the opposite of “behind the eight-ball.” Opposite-word.com says: “fortuitous, fortunate, lucky, well-off.”

I disagree. It has nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with planning.

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