How Deadlines Control My Chaos

I love deadlines.

Seriously, I do. Always have. I work better with them. I’m someone desperately afflicted with what I call butterfly brain — so many ideas, so many things I could be doing, that actually completing any of them has always been an issue. Right now, for instance, I’ve been putting off writing this blog post because I keep wanting to tweak my concept for the space opera WIP I’m working on, and because I want to keep adjusting scenes for book two of the Aven Cycle, and because I need to reserve a moving truck and storage space, and because I might want to record some new videos for Patreon, and because I haven’t figured out what I want for dinner yet.

You see where focus becomes a problem?

But a deadline staring me down, a schedule to keep — these things control the chaos.

I think this is why my recent foray into bullet journaling has gone over so well. I was mildly worried that it was going to dial my anxiety up to eleven, but instead, I actually feel so much calmer and more on top of things. I can make lists: by the month, by the week, and by the day, of all the things that need doing. And when they get done, I can check them off. I keep hard to the month and week ones, but on the dailies, if something doesn’t get done and gets pushed to the next day, I’ve given myself permission for that to be okay. I didn’t return library books or go to the post office on Friday because Virginia was in that swath of the country where March most definitely came in like a 60mph lion. I didn’t beat myself up about it. I just moved it to the schedule for another day.

I’m really happy that I dove into this bujo system right when publicity for From Unseen Fire is really gearing up, because it’s helping me keep on top of all the deadlines for guest blogs. It’s reminding me when to pester my publicist for information — and it’s reminding me when it’s not quite time to be annoying at her yet. Soon it will help me know what events to prepare for.

The funny thing is, I almost never run right up to a deadline on something. Another lovely side effect of high-functioning anxiety is that I want to prove I’m better than people expect. So I set pre-deadlines for myself, and I typically turn things in three days to a week sooner than they’re really needed. And it’s a good thing, because then when something I’m trying to finish is rough going, as one blog post I had to turn in a couple of weeks ago was, I might be late by my schedule, but I’ll be right on time according to the real one.

Right now, I’m eagerly awaiting a deadline for Book Two from my editor.

Because I know myself.

And that draft ain’t getting done until there’s a date attached to it.


From Unseen Fire debuts April 17th from DAW Books! Want to know more about the magic of Aven? Cass has launched a tie-in microfiction series!

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Cass Morris lives and works in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with the companionship of two royal felines, Princess and Ptolemy. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, and she earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart. Learn more about the Aven Cycle and get a behind-the-scenes look at her work at

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