M is for Deadlines

| April 29, 2014

As we discussed in our second to last class, procrastination is the true catalyst of invention. Some creative projects are borne from inspiration, but many are borne from duress. But these restrictions may not all be negative – constraints and structure are helpful for many creative endeavors.

Looking to my own experiences: when I moved to New York some years ago, like many I resorted to a day job to support my music habit. But at some point, I had built up enough work to make a go of it as an ‘independent artist’. These were some of the most stressful moments of my life. I found that having been liberated from the constraints of a job, I couldn’t motivate myself to become truly immersed in my artistic life.  I floundered, I slept in often, and I panicked. I didn’t know how to assert myself. I waited for the phone to ring.  In other words: without external structures and expectations, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I’m not saying this has really changed that much over time, but I realized I needed to find a new balance. I needed structure on my life, restrictions on time and space.  This has remained true for my work in academia – without deadlines I don’t really produce. I do look forward to my time after grad school when I get to write what I want when I want, but will it be a repeat of what happened in my earlier creative life?