Tamsin Constable

Deadlines and ‘flow’

I’m working on a short story (all about larder moths). I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to get valuable feedback from two writer friends, Mandy and Sarah, who were coming round for dinner (all about prawn curry), so I stayed up late to finish the draft.

Here’s the crazy thing. I had had two months to write that draft, but I left it until the last evening. Then, when I finally ran out of time, trapped by an external deadline, I had nowhere else to run. I had to sit down.

I quickly got into the ‘flow’. That’s the state of mind when you become totally absorbed in something you’re doing. It’s about focus, concentration – and pleasure. People get it when they’re doing a jigsaw, gardening, running, painting…

Would that have happened without a tight deadline? Would I have accessed that same state of pleasurable creative productivity? It can’t be good to thrive on deadlines, not as a long-term strategy. The trick, then, is to re-create, internally, the conditions of an external deadline. To timetable ‘flow’. I’m working on it.

Anyway, I got the feedback: constructive criticism for the moths, unfettered praise for the prawns.

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