Thursday, January 23, 2014

A weird side effect of working ahead

I've noticed this in the newspaper business, where you're always working on tomorrow's paper. Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself it's not tomorrow already.

After I’ve spent a whole day reading or writing "today" on stories that will appear Wednesday, and after awhile I start thinking it's Wednesday already. I need to reassure myself that no, I didn’t miss that appointment I had at 4 p.m. Tuesday, because it’s still 2:30 and I have 90 minutes to get there, I’m not almost 23 hours late.

And now, working on a story I plan to release in March, I've started catching myself thinking that it's February already. Fascinating.

I’m trying to work ahead so that the next Myke Phoenix story is finished (at minimum in draft form) when the new one is released. I completed Night of the Superstorm on the day before I released Invasion of the Body Borrowers. Now I’m working through Duck Man Walking, which debuts March 3.

People who write about setting goals often will say that it’s beneficial to envision yourself as already successful. What does success look like? Set your mind and grow into that vision. I’m finding that if I set I mind thoroughly enough while you work ahead, you need to extract yourself from that vision to get back to real life.

Because the story that comes out Feb. 3 is finished, I have to keep reminding my mind that it’s still late January. I find myself thinking I missed Valentine’s Day, but it’s still weeks off. It’s the “tomorrow is today” syndrome played out over a span of weeks instead of hours.

I suspect that’s a beneficial side effect of having a deadline – beneficial because when the task must be done by a certain time, a sense of urgency builds up. This common phenomenon first rears its head in school – try pulling an all-nighter for a project that’s due in a week; it’s a lot harder than pulling one the night before the deadline.

It’s important to stay in the moment and remember to live today fully, but dipping a toe into the future can help make the next moments more focused.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't you do the same thing with this blog - work ahead?