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Michelle's Musings

Deadlines: A Case for Self Improvement

Some people don't do well with deadlines. While I'm fairly disciplined about my writing regimen, deadlines guarantee that I regularly practice the craft. This blog and a monthly newsletter column require a bit of creativity, but they also reinforce my editing skills. And I've noticed that my first drafts are less cringe-worthy than in years past. However, this month I did wince at the published version of my newsletter column, which profiles members of one of my writing organizations. Sometimes I receive last-minute additions that, when inserted, disrupt the establish tempo of the piece.


Given that I conduct my member "interviews" via email, the responses are sometimes lackluster at best, which makes it difficult to compose a fluid narrative for my 425-word column. In those cases, I usually request additional information, but some folks just don't want to be bothered. On the other hand, when I start out with an abundance of information, I have a better sense of my subject's personality, which leads to a more fluid narrative. Last-minute requests to add material to the profile can be a good thing if I need filler. Fortunately, having regular deadlines has taught me to improvise at a higher level in a shorter time frame.


One piece of advice I've taken to heart is to read my work out loud. Doing so reveals flaws I might not otherwise notice. Not to mention typos and word repetition that jump from the page like fleas. It's an efficient way to perform quick edits in the face of a looming deadline.


If you don't have a recurring column or other writing project with regular deadlines, or if you feel that procrastination hampers your evolvement as a writer, try setting target dates and practice meeting them as though your monthly income depends on doing so. That kind of discipline just might take you to the bank.

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