I've been focusing on editing the first draft of my book. It's detailed, painstaking work that can't be rushed. I tried rushing at one point, and like the novice speed reader, accomplished the task and achieved little.
I resigned myself to putting in the hours and slowly made progress. However, no matter how optimistic I am, finishing 8 questions out of 55 still left 43 questions unfinished at the end of last week. I told a friend that I was getting concerned about the time it would take until I could send an excerpt of my book to some esteemed colleagues for feedback (my next step). He pointed out that since I was only sending the introduction and 6 sample questions, I could send it off before editing the rest. Why didn't I think of that?
The clouds parted and I could see sunlight. I had a short-term goal and all I needed was a deadline. Due dates that are close enough to touch always have been the most motivating for me, so I picked the following Friday -- today!
I am not like Douglas Adams who said, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound as they fly by." I take them seriously and tap into them for energy. They put me into action mode and drive me to make a plan based on the resources and time available. They also keep me focused on the most important activities.
Once I had set my deadline I accomplished the following:
- Broke down the work into a plan
- Defined the feedback I was looking for - reader versus editor based
- Created a prototype review package including instructions, content and feedback questions
- Selected the six questions for review that are representative of the entire book
- Tested the logic of my selections with a friend and advisor
- Edited the introduction and sample questions
- Chewed many packs of Trident gum
By Wednesday night, time was running out. Editing was taking as long as usual and one of my questions needed to be rewritten. I stayed up until 2am to get back on track, which felt both tiring and invigorating. At 10pm on Thursday night, I completed my package. After a quick review with the same friend this morning, I'll send it out to the people who have generously agreed to read my work.
It will feel good once the last package has been sent. Then it's back to the 43 remaining unedited questions. Time to select a new deadline.