Invoking Parkinson’s Law

Nov 22, 2015

Mr. Parkinson had it all worked out. Government departments have a peculiar way of working.

There is a certain amount of work to be done. It makes no difference if you have a week to do it in or a year. The work will get done in the prescribed amount of time. It will be completed no matter what. However, it will require all of the time allotted to it to complete the task. The number of people required to do it will also work in a similar way. If there is a budget for a hundred people then that amount of staff will be hired to do the job. If there is only a budget for 10 people then that amount will be taken on. Either way the job will get done.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Cyril Northcote Parkinson

Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress

It must have something to do with deadlines. It only really works if the deadlines are fixed. If there is any way that a deadline can be extended or moved then that will surely occur. That is another phenomenon. Too much flexibility will be detrimental to crossing the finishing line. The line will keep moving. In the worst case it will never be reached.

Writing a book is the same. I have been working on my first one for three years. I hear of other authors churning books out in a matter of months. A writing coach proposed that it was possible in even less time. You will just fill up the time you are allotted. It will not make the book better or worse. The end product will not benefit or suffer from having more time dedicated to it. A deadline has to be set though. If not then the words “The End” will just keep moving. You will never get there. It will become an elusive target.

I do have to admit that I have been doing more than just writing a book. I have been busy learning how to be a writer. I have also been honing my craft. There were a lot of false starts. There has also been an innumerable number of rewrites. I suppose I could have stopped at any moment. I didn’t. I just pushed on. I have been at school. I have been self-teaching myself. I haven’t graduated but I’m close. Publishing the book will be my graduation of sorts. But it will only be a start and then I will continue onwards with the next one.

Now that I am nearing the end a self-imposed deadline is necessary. No one else will do it for me. I need to adopt Parkinson’s Law and make the work fit into a set amount of time. The work will get done in that time. I just need to encapsulate it. I need to give it a container. Only then will it finish itself.

It will finish itself.

I started doing this with Wattpad. It helped me get to the end of writing the manuscript. I was posting my book as a serial. One scene a week. I began doing this sometime in May. A while ago I decided to up the ante. I decided to post scenes twice a week. I invoked Mr. Parkinson’s law. I set a time frame. Very soon the manuscript was finished. Now I needed to set a new deadline. I need to get it out into the world and not just the protected environment of Wattpad. That is the next and most daunting step. I will do it. I keep telling myself to just set targets which are reachable. The law didn’t discuss that. It is necessary though. Possibly that’s an entirely other law altogether.

Just take small steps. Set a series of deadlines and most importantly, keep writing.

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