3 months out: Assignment is given. “Yes! I’m perfect for this piece! I’m so thrilled that I can do what I love and get paid for it too!”
2 1/2 months out: “I have so many ideas! I’m just going to read these books and articles so I can generate even more ideas!”
2 months out: Sit down at the computer with coffee in hand to start writing. “This is so relaxing!” Two paragraphs later: “I’ve been so productive!” Quit while euphoric feelings are still present.
1 1/2 months out: “I think I’m overthinking this. I don’t know where to begin.” Reread last two paragraphs written. You hate them. Force yourself not to delete them in case you like them again tomorrow, and call it a day.
1 month out: Oh geez. I really need to get started on this or I’ll never finish in time. Write two more paragraphs and call it a day. You wouldn’t want your writing to feel forced.
1 day before assignment is due: Curl up in fetal position. Start chewing your hair, sucking your thumb, and bawling into the carpet. “Why did I ever take this assignment?! I’m completely useless! No one will ever pay me to do anything ever again! I despise myself and my pseudo-intellectualism!”
Due date: Turn in finished product. Editor tells you it looks good. Go take a nap, and call a mental health professional in the morning. Scratch that, you can’t afford a mental health professional. You WRITE for a living.
The moral of the story? As Tina Fey put it in Bossypants, “[Don’t be] too precious about your writing” (p. 123).