Give Yourself a Deadline

Walking by the Reed College bookstore this week I felt a longing to be starting school – to buy that brand new philosophy text, a fresh binder, and a new pen that writes silky smooth. I felt ready to learn something that would change my life. Then, I realized that I didn’t want to be 20 again but just be in school again, then I realized that I didn’t really want to be in school again, I just wanted that feeling of newness, clean slate, starting fresh with new supplies. One of the reasons I loved school is how organized it is. There’s a clear beginning and end. It starts with new supplies and assignments and due dates and after the final exam, it’s over.

From elementary school through high school I always wore a completely new outfit on the first day. Everything needed to be brand-spanking-new right down to my white ankle socks. It was as if the first day were a sacred ceremony.

So, how can I take all the good aspects of school and use them now?

I bought a beautiful slate gray binder with “D” rings and colorful tabbed dividers and organized my latest writing project into the binder.

I’m now ending each day’s work with a clear assignment for the next morning so I don’t get to my writing desk and have to remember what it is that I’m supposed to write next.

Then, I gave myself a deadline. By the end of September I want to be finished with the middle chunk of the book I’m writing. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it can even be very bad, but it needs to be done.

New supplies. Clear assignments. Strict mini-deadlines.

This weekend, how can you incorporate a helpful element of “school” into your creative life? How can a concept of “school” without the homework and without having to re-live the angst of your late teens/early 20s, help you now?

A trip to Office Depot? A new t-shirt? A mini-deadline? A clear assignment? How can Monday be a new beginning?

Photo by Ales Krivec