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E.C.’s and Finite Walls

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently learned that a controversy brewed about the real use of the editorial calendar. I’m new to this tool of the writing business, but I never realized that such a tool could have so many sides. Who knew that which deadline date one uses was controversial?

Here you have spreadsheet with columns and rows of items. Columns, for me, relate to the days of the week. The rows house the activities required for those days. Some people use the opposite approach. Call me traditional with calendars. Days belong across the top of the sheet.

Those activities plugged into the spreadsheet range from book chapters that must go to a critique partner/group to poem revisions necessary before submitting a packet to a magazine. Everything goes on the calendar; at least in my work world. I also need to allot for time spent on said activity. I know. I’m a bit anal due to having so many projects on the board.

The one thing that I don’t understand about this calendar debate is why it exists. Yes, some writers use a submission deadline date supplied by the magazine, publisher, agent, etc. Others like me, like lots of cushion to account for unforeseen circumstances, and plug a project into a day prior to the actual deadline date.

Isn’t it a matter of needs?

Everyone has a specific way of thinking about work and deadlines. I see deadlines as finite walls. There are no doors in those walls. If I can’t make a deadline, it’s my fault. I knew it was there. I knew what I needed to do. If I don’t make it, it’s because I didn’t prepare adequately to get the job done. It’s really that simple.

In order to make the deadline, I place a date a few days prior to that of the finite wall. In the back of my mind, I know that cushion is built in. In the day-to-day work, though, that realization tends to disappear. My calendar tells me that I need to have something done on a specific day. And that’s what I do.

Others may not need that cushion. They work better under pressure to make deadline. That’s how their creativity erupts; but a sense of immediate need.

I work on a monthly calendar and a weekly one. One gives a longer overview, especially because of coursework I need to keep in mind. The short week calendar gives me detail on upcoming work and deadlines. They operate in tandem to give me all I need to keep my activity level constant.

I haven’t been doing a calendar prior to May. I don’t enjoy the time spent creating them. For me, it’s tedious, but the hour or two I spend on those spreadsheets saves me tons in frustration, panic, and unnecessary backtracking. It’s time so well spent that I doubt I would ever go without one again.

Tell me about your experience with editorial calendars. Has your E.C. friend saved you from disgrace, time lost, lack of production? Drop it in a comment. Sharing is always good. If you have different take on this subject, let us see that, too.

Later, all. A bientot,

Claudsy

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  1. Veronica Roth
    June 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Bah…hate all EC calendars. I write everything into my Quo Vadis President. It’s very old school! I have years and years of the same day timer and it acts as a record of my life. Also, I love to doodle, stick things, staple business cards and draw hearts around birthdays in them. Deadlines mix with appointments, bill payment confirmation numbers, special dates, flights, etc. And, I can take it with me everywhere. (that’ll be 2¢) 🙂

    • claudsy
      June 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Glad you have a system that works for you, Veronica. I suppose I wrote this more for those who have no system, who are still losing notes on their desks, like I’ve been doing for so long and hadn’t taken the time to do something about.

      I used to use a day-planner, but I got out of the habit long ago. This is the next best thing for me.

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