...is an awesome song to play on Guitar Hero Metallica. But the ominous pealing of bells indicating the approach of the end of one's time is also a powerful reminder of my current preoccupation. A deadline.
I love deadlines. No, seriously, I do. Those aren't sarcastic italics. I am one of the world's great procrastinators. Hamlet and Scarlet O'Hara look like poster kids for a purpose-driven life compared to me without a deadline (and sometimes with one, too). Case in point, I'm leaving for ten days in less than twenty-four hours. Maybe I should start to pack, especially since most of those remaining hours will be spent at work or asleep. I've still got time, right?
I've been working on this book since November. I'd tell you what it's called, but it's still in the title changing room, trying on about a hundred different titles to find one that fits just right. --Any luck, hon? Almost? Okay.—So, I'll get back to you on that. I am a pantser straight through to my soul, and whatever it is that tells me what happens next is perfectly happy to hang out and play Sims or Guitar Hero or reorganize my playlist or try on titles or come up with a teasingly hot scene for another book instead of focusing on the current project. That's where ticking clocks and tolling bells and flashing digital counters come in handy. There's nothing like a deadline to get that lazy can't-I-think-about-it-later? part of my brain back in action. There is no tomorrow. (Really, there isn't. I'm going on vacation. Guess the netbook's going with me.)
If you don't have the thrill of an actual deadline to inspire you, or that's still too far off, you can do what I did earlier this week. One of my critique partners finds herself in a similarly adrift boat when it comes to her WIP. So we made a bet. Twenty bucks says we can't meet a mini-deadline. Hers was chapter six. Mine was 12,000 words. If one of us made it and the other didn't, the loser forfeited the cash. I still had 10K to write as of Friday, and I spent the weekend at a conference. She did hers on Sunday. But we both made it. There's nothing like pride, cash and a hard and fast deadline to trigger inspiration. The WIP took off again.
So if you see someone way too old to be wearing that princess tiara scribbling in a notebook as she stumbles around Disneyworld for the next ten days, say "Hi." It's me. But I can't chat long. The clock is ticking.