Deadlines — More than nightmares


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about deadlines and realizing that I’m the kind of person that needs them to function well. Many of us can remember the pressure of final exams, those dreaded paper deadlines, that feeling of a clock ticking in the back of your mind, morning, noon and night (which back in the day, may have had something to do with actual ticking clocks as well as excessive doses of TAB, but, whatever!) Yes, those kind of deadlines can and do become the stuff of nightmares as we grow older. But other deadlines don’t seem to enter my sleep. For example, if I’m in need of rediscovering my dining room table top, it’s time to invite someone over for dinner in a week or so. April 15 is a classic deadline (and maybe a nightmare unto itself) – we all know what it means and the majority of us meet or beat it. But deadlines don’t have to be just the stuff of nightmares. Deadlines are terrific motivators.

Since leaving teaching over ten years ago though, I’ve lived without frequent deadlines — no more grades due by midterms and quarter’s end; no more parent-teacher conferences; no more weekly meetings to run and respond to. I worked efficiently with those deadlines. I got a whole lot done in a day and think I made a positive contribution to the lives of my students and colleagues.

Without consistent deadlines, I’ve had to find ways to create some for myself, especially for my writing. I’m in a writing group that meets about every two weeks for the academic year and is sometimes on, sometimes not, in summers. I find that group works as a good deadline for me to aim toward with new work. Also, I’ve used writing contests as deadlines, and deadlines of favorite journals to submit to are often motivators for me.

Some of the staff of the Lyon Review have been wondering about incorporating deadlines into our submission calendar. We are wondering if that might motivate some of you to submit who haven’t yet. Do you think you would be more or less likely to submit if you knew there was a due date to work toward? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!