Favorite Quotes Volume XXXIV: A Bee Gee tells us how it be.

We lost Robin Gibb, one of the founding brothers of the iconic pop group The Bee Gees, over a month ago.  Obviously their music will live on for decades to come .  . . but the words they didn’t set to music should be remembered as well, including this gem of a quote from an interview Robin gave in 2008 about the importance of a good ‘ol fashioned deadline:

We certainly had a deadline with [Saturday Night] Fever to write all those songs.  I think, in one week, we wrote ‘How Deep Is Your Love,’ ‘Night Fever,’ ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ ‘If I Can’t Have You’ and the rest.  Having a deadline sharpens you up, it gets you out of bed and it stops you going to bed, too.”

Oh, it’s that last part that gets me every time.

How many people do you know with a yet unfinished play, a screenplay, or anything of the like?  Maybe even you?  Want to know the quickest way to finish it?  Set yourself a Bee Gee-like deadline and, well, finish it.  And listen up, all you Type A perfectionists out there . . . that doesn’t mean it has to be Pulitzer Prizey by the time you’re done.  It just needs to be done.  You can go back and polish it for Pulitzer approval later.  But you have to finish it, because frankly, it’s not a play, a screenplay, or anything of the like, until you do.

And one way to guarantee that it’ll never get up on its feet is to never get to that page with the words “THE END” on it.

Ok, so maybe you’re not getting paid upon completion like the Bee Gees were for their tunes.  But, actually, maybe you can.

Here’s one of my favorite tips for inspiring yourself to finish whatever project you’re working on . . . pay yourself.

That’s right, you heard me, if someone else isn’t going to pay you, then pay yourself.  Remember Pavlov and give yourself a treat upon completion of the task.  Say, “When I finish XXX, I will INSERT SOMETHING HERE LIKE TAKE A VACATION, BUY MYSELF A FANCY DRESS, EAT SOMETHING I SHOULDN’T.”  Get it?

Deadline first.  Reward second.

And write both of them down and put that piece of paper where you can see it everyday.

I guarantee you’ll finish more stuff.  And when you finish more stuff, you have a much greater chance of success.


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  • Solange De Santis says:

    I read that Sean O’Casey pinned a sign over his desk: “Finish the fucking play!”

  • Raymond Cothern says:

    Simple but a good idea. Many of us write for various reasons but the toughest part may be finishing something, but the emotional rewards are huge. As you said, once finished, it may not be exactly what you aimed for or it may have taken a turn and something unexpected was the end result, but the important thing is completing something you set out to do. That’s wonderful in any field. So write, write, and you know, somewhere along the way (before you’ve finished something)the ending may just reveal itself. And, oh, yeah, give yourself something you have been really wanting as a reward.

  • Carl says:

    “I don’t need time, I need a deadline.” – Duke Ellington

  • I have a half-finished script that sits in a folder collecting dust. I just wasn’t sure where it was all going and so I set it aside. But it’s time for me to pick it up and set a reward for myself. Thanks for the motivation!!

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