The Costs of Creative Chaos by Catharine Bramkamp
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “The Costs of Creative Chaos.” Enjoy!
There is no denying the romance and excitement of the last minute.
The rushing, the forgetting, the rising blood pressure. The deadlines, the finals, the late nights.
Students gathering for days– or at least a couple hours– in the unfamiliar library stacks cramming for classes they don’t remember attending.
Office staff clustered around the coffee machine sharing their surprise conclusion that if they had started their presentation earlier, they wouldn’t be so stressed this Friday afternoon.
Social media doesn’t help.
There are no popular images depicting a calm person brandishing a scheduling app happy they finished every project ahead of deadline.
There are countless memes featuring crazed creatives working up to the last minute, or rushing to their book signings, or just finishing edits before deadline– except for troublesome page 120, we just skipped it.
Authors are infamous for our contentious relationship with deadlines, it is part of our story as authors.
But what if that’s not your story?
If you are bereft of harrowing tales about barely finishing your novel/cover edits/final edits on time, read on.
This article was born from a comment made by my significant other. I announced I had finished an article for this blog site early.
He responded: Of course you did. He meant it as a compliment, but it was a surprising trigger.
Organized people are boring, dull.
Organized people are not creative.
Organized people and our instinct to finish and file automatically bars us from the fellowship of writers and turns us into mere accountants– boring, untalented, blocked from the wild ride that is the creative life.
I disagree, to my organized tribe, there are benefits to being a responsible person that can very much feed and nurture creative endeavors:
More Vibrant Work
Rather than wasting emotions and time on everyday chaos – you have the energy to capture all the crazy that is not your home life and drop it all into your book.
Create more Work
When you finish work, you have time to create more work. With life under control (more or less) you free up bandwidth to find another passion, create another piece of art. You get to do more.
More likely to get published
You research, you complete, you spend the time submitting your work to the most likely outlets.
Who knew THAT approach would be successful?
Yes, the wonderful, crazy chaotic artist does get lucky breaks. But the author with a well considered MS and a consistently applied strategy, finds her own luck.
Submit better work
Working ahead allows for more breathing space. Drafts can be put aside for months at a time, allowing for more creative editing and better focus.
Time is your friend.
You are the editor’s new best friend
The slap dash, misspelled, poorly formatted doc (rather than docX, please upgrade your Microsoft Suite) is not as inconsequential as you think. Sure the piece could be brilliant, but if it immediately inspires a sigh, it’s already behind.
Allowing time to create not only the best work possible, but also reviewing the editorial requirements, puts us out of the accounting category and closer to the published author class.
The Procrastination Cult
So now you feel pretty good about working ahead of deadline, but that doesn’t help mitigate emotional thrill and fellowship of the Procrastination cult.
When a wild eyed fellow writer accosts you in Starbucks, what can you say?
Don’t be sanctimonious, that just makes it worse.
If you want to sound like you belong to the cult, er, club, here are some responses:
- “Wow, that deadline seems really close, I understand how consuming these projects are, I’m working on one myself.”
- “I turned in my work but of course, haven’t heard.”
- “I’m looking forward to diving into my next work, how is your MS coming along?”
Just because you are organized, even efficient, doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Efficient writers just work differently. And of course, well ahead of deadline.
(I wrote the first draft of this article in July, I hope you feel me).
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, former co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back. She delights in inspiring her readers.