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When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. [When] your ardor [is] dampened, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. (Sun Tzu 36)
This works with projects today, too. No matter how passionate a person is about a project, he or she can experience "project weariness." Then "other chieftains" or rather distractions will spring up and pull the person away. In fact, I'm suffering from all this now, on my first ebook-to-be.
The easiest cure for project weariness is not to get into the situation in the first place. How? By following other Sun Tzu advice:
The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. (35)
Lots of writers set up deadlines and goal dates based on what they think they can do or other external pressures. But something else should be included in that deadline:
- how long the writer can stand working on a project before he or she gets "project weary" and
- what activities cause the weariness.
And thinking over past novels, I realize that the revision phase is a major, major area of project weariness for me. That means I need to continue developing my ideas on rolling edits so I have one month of edits instead of a three-month block of them.
So in the end, it's a fine balance. But when setting a deadline on a writing project, it is important to keep personal stick-to-it-ness in mind. This will help guide the writer's actions, so the writer is doing most of the work when passion is high and before other distractions set in.
Cites: Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Trans. Lionel Giles. 1910. Project Gutenberg, 1994. Epub Edition.