Getting behind, for me, is inevitable, damn it. I’ve got lots of stuff to do, and when it comes to saying “No!” to new projects, I suck harder than the Atlanta Braves in the postseason–and coming from a die-hard Bravos fan, that’s sayin’ a lot!
Sadly, it’s true. But for those of us seeking a silver lining, it’s also forced me to be productive even when I don’t feel like it. Much as I’d like to sit back and let the Muse deliver a massage, or whatever other tender mercies the ol’ gal has to offer, what I mostly need to do is put my posterior in a chair and my fingers on a keyboard. Typically, the end result is something I can eventually manhandle into usable shape. It might not be pretty, but it’ll be okay enough to do the job. This blog, f’rinstance, is a great example: ugly more often than not, but serviceable.
If there’s a life lesson in here, it’d be, “Learn how to say, ‘No!'”
I tell myself most folks are just like me when it comes to a decision like this. Instead of thinking only about ourselves, and our need to be timely and productive, our usual hard-as-nails personas get all squishy when we’re asked to do something for someone else. And it’s usually kids. “Think of the poor kids, you miserable heel!”
Naturally, I do start thinking about those poor kids. They’re legion, fer cryin’ out loud. Why doesn’t someone ever come ’round and ask about homeless strippers or lingerie models? Surely they need some love, too, right? Call on me, dammit!
What I’m driving at–poorly, I admit–is that there are times when we’ve got stuff to write, and very little time in which to do it. Our options are pretty limited. Either we grovel about the unfairness of life; we find someone else to do the work for us, or we cowboy up and write the best stuff we can write as fast as we can write it.
In case you weren’t sure, I’m a big supporter of option #3: shut up and work. If you have time to read it over, then, by all means, read it over. If not, just pray you did the best job you could do in the time available. And then, move on to the next project. The world won’t grind to a halt if you mangle a little punctuation or fail to craft the perfect sentence. I also suspect something will happen that allows you to go back and fix the problems that you didn’t have time to fix earlier. And there are always things to fix. Always.
The Muse is fickle. If you rely on her for inspiration, you’ll be disappointed, unless writing a few hundred words every other year is enough to satisfy you. Sometimes you just have to sit down and work, no matter how you feel or what else you have to do. Sometimes you have to write a LOT in a very short time.
Do the best you can. At the very least, no one can say you didn’t try. And if they do, the people who know you will ignore them for the idiots they are.