Last week I worked on a spread-sized illustration assignment for a magazine that was very detailed and complex. (I'll post it after the issue comes out.) I had only a few days to complete the final art. Hunching over my drawing table all week was not great for my eyes, wrist, back or brain-- but I was pleased with the finished piece, and the sense of satisfaction when I shipped it out on Friday felt great. (Not to mention leaving the house for the first time all week. Who knew grocery shopping could be so much fun??) This I have learned: I am much more productive when I have a deadline.
When I'm not busy I set deadlines for my own writing and illustration projects. For some reason it's easier to focus when I have a lot of things on my to-do list. I take these self-imposed deadlines as seriously as a paying assignment-- they help quell that gnawing anxiety about not having created enough.
So, how about you-- do you set your own deadlines? Do you work better with them or with wide-open spaces of time?