Fated to Last-Minute Syndrome


I’ve been trying to write more. Short fiction. I’ve entered a few contests so far with no expectations except for that of an imposed deadline. In the process, I’ve learned something about myself, something I do not like (an addition to a very long list): I seem to suffer from last-minute syndrome. I learn of a contest’s existence weeks–if not months–in advance, and yet, here I am again with nuggets of two potential ideas and deadlines looming just around the corner, i.e. this weekend.

The thing with writing is that there are no rules. Oh sure, there are tips and perspectives.

“This works for me, so it might work for you. Or not. But try it. Maybe.”

There are schools of thoughts.

“A story should be written in full in one sitting.”


“If you spend more than six months on a story without nearing completion, forget it… Except if you’re Harper Lee. Or Flaubert.”

There are even mathematical formulas.

“Take your draft + Cut off about 25% of it = Get final cut.”

And here I thought I chose a career in letters to avoid the whole math thing!

I know distance is good; it could actually be key. You write it all down. You take a breather. You come back and you can see it for what it is and make the necessary cuts and additions to make it shine, or at least make it less dull. But when you suffer from last-minute syndrome, you lack the time required for distance. You rely on your first readers (and you drive them a little bonkers: “Got time to read this? I have to ship it in, oh, two hours. Swimming in time, right?”).

I’m left hoping that the cliché of practice makes perfect will turn out to be true; that the more I will write, the better I will be at getting started earlier and at completing a first draft at least a few days before a deadline.

But I dream…