When Flo Ziegfeld was producing a show with Rodgers and Hart, he imperiously ordered the fabled songwriting duo to create a new tune tout suite. Our boys Dick and Larry went back to their hotel and in one afternoon came up with “Ten Cents a Dance,” one of their all-time classics:
“Ten cents a dance, that’s what they pay me
Gosh, how they weigh me down
Ten cents a dance, pansies and rough guys
Tough guys who tear my gown
Seven to midnight I hear drums
Loudly the saxophone blows
Trumpets are tearing my eardrums
Customers crush my toes
Sometimes I think I’ve found my hero
But it’s a queer romance
All that you need is a ticket
Come on, big boy, ten cents a dance!”
Fabulous! The moral of this story: sometimes a deadline can really ignite your creativity.
One of my readers recently commented that a proposal deadline resulted in one of the best pieces of work she’s ever produced. I’ve found the same thing myself. Deadlines can be daunting, but they can also be energizing as well. They can force you to dig deep into your inner resources and find something special.
As a long-time freelancer, I’ve had my share of project deadlines. Since I’m focusing right now on work that’s written on spec, frankly, I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’m finding that my self-imposed deadlines are drifting by. One of them has just come and gone.
Announcing a deadline and being accountable to someone for meeting it is one approach that works for some people, so I’m going to try that. I’m going come up with a date for finishing the revisions of my YA novel and tell it to my sister Stephanie.
How about you? Have you found the self-imposed deadlines work — or do they just come and go? Do you have any helpful strategies for setting deadlines and meeting them that you can share?