Sep 30, 2023

A yammer about planners and crammers

There are two ways of approaching deadlines. There's planning, and then there's cramming.

Planners will be methodical in their use of time. They will make lists, draw charts and use coloured pens to track their progress. They embrace routine, and know that a little goes a long way. They are the organisation equivalent of Doctor Who's Weeping Angels, slowly creeping forward knowing that they will eventually snog their victim to death. Is that what the Weeping Angels did? I can't remember.

Crammers will leave things until the last minute. A deadline is an abstract concept to be ignored, like death or mortgages or Pokemon. They will wait until the white heat of a deadline is burning their eyeballs before starting a project. And that's when they will do their best work. Like Superman only saving things at the last minute because he suddenly remembers he could rotate the Earth in a backwards direction and therefore reverse time, a chunk of scientific bunkum that would have left Isaac Newton literally spinning in his grave. 

I realise this sounds awfully binary. Planners and crammers. Opposite sides of a coin, like odd socks versus matching socks, toilet roll positioning, Tennant stans versus Smith stans, or techno heads arguing over their favourite Orbital brother.

The truth is, life is not binary. Real lift is nuanced, with gradations of grey, or 'greydations' for short. True joy is found in the inbetween places, in neither one extreme nor the other. How else can you explain the beauty of twilight, the thrill of salted caramel, or your third child who is neither the prettiest not the brightest but, y'know, they're a good kid.

But if we are to buy into the pseudo-psychological device of identifying people as planners or crammers then I am most definitely a crammer. I need deadlines to add spark to my creativity. It's why this blog post exists: I promised that I wouldn't go a month without blogging, and look, here we are, on the last day of the month squeezing out a blog turd before the month is flushed away.

A while ago, I posted about a rather large medical crisis. I am doing well, and my medical stats are good. Last week. my GP rang me to tell me how well I was doing, and how handsome I was, and how if I was to ride a horse, I would ride it brilliantly. Something like that anyway; I wasn't really listening. But yes, I am surviving well. Thriving, even.

This does mean that next month, I am going to step up my creative projects. I am back to full-time at the Burgess Foundation, and I have continued to pen my column for Electronic Sound magazine. In a few weeks, I will step up my commitments by increasing my writing work.

This does mean I'm going to have to learn to plan*. Now that I'm using assistive technology for read and write, and now that I am susceptible to the kind of fatigue that is probably common for people whose brains have exploded, I'm going to have to get organised. Writing diaries, wordcount deadlines, not starting my end-of-year album countdown a few days before the end of the year. Planning, not cramming.

There are three, not two, ways of approaching deadlines. There's planning. There's cramming. And there's planning the cramming, a whole new third nexus of human operation that will (a) blow a hole in all of our existing realities and (b) maybe guarantee that I produce more than one blog post a month.

* "I'm going to have to learn to plan" makes me sound super amateurish, as if I'm careening from one calamity to another. I'm actually an excellent planner. I remember to empty my bin before the bin lorry comes and everything.