When I first retired from teaching back in 2004 (Has it really been 10 years already?), I resolved to avoid alarm clocks, calendars, warning bells, and deadlines. I had lived my entire life in schools, responding to every event with a clear understanding of "What time is it?" For the last fifteen years, I got up at 5:15 (didn't everybody?), hit the campus parking lot by 7:00, was waiting outside my assigned classroom five minutes before my every class, observed office hours meticulously, served dinner precisely at 6:00 PM, and went to bed by 10:00. I seldom fell behind in my work, but I also didn't do much on the spur of the moment. Retirement meant that for the first time in 60 years, I could do WHAT I liked WHEN I wanted to do it.
Did it work? No, of course not -- at least not completely. We live by clocks and calendars whether we intend to or not. But I did try. Yes, I kept a wall calendar on the door to my office and a date book on my desk, but I only recorded events that had exact time limits -- like meetings, dentist appointments, or dinner dates. When it came to my new writing/publishing career, I was more relaxed. I refused to put time limits on the things I was working on. I was deliberately vague about when a new book might make an appearance: "Maybe in the Fall" was a typical response. Creativity can't be rushed, I reasoned.
Now, in this first month of a new year, I'm re-thinking the approach again. I learned last year that sometimes events (like a pratfall and broken bones) can utterly destroy the most elaborate plans (like a wonderful South Carolina book tour). But I've also realized something else -- that I can't dilly-dally along without any deadlines. More and more frequently I find that other people ( my editor and book designer, for example) are depending on me to finish certain tasks by a certain date, and that they are organizing their own work to correspond with mine. So even though it's a bit past the deadline for a New Year's Resolution, I'm forcing myself to sit down today and do some serious scheduling for the coming year.
As I look ahead, I need to turn my "To Do" list into a series of deadlines rather than just a "get-around-to-this-sometime" list. In the coming year, I foresee bringing out a second edition of my first (non-medieval) book, turning two biographical novels into audio books, and publishing my first real -- completely fictional -- novel. That's a pretty hefty load, and in fairness to all of those who contribute to my successes, I need to work on a schedule.
Later today, I will post a new page on my Katzenhaus website. On it, I intend to outline the four projects I have coming up, and the expected deadlines for each one. Please drop by to see what's happening when. And then help by holding my feet to the fire!