Article by Curry Zawa Kaoru
Seeking a cure for chronic last-minute submissions
The label "professional author" feels so foreign I'm half-wondering if you mistook me for someone else, but sure, I'll share the trick most professional authors use to meet deadlines.
And that's... treating it as a job.
Chances are, you too, as a professional company employee or whatever, clock in at specific times and meet deadlines. And if I asked you, "How do you manage to show up at 9 am and work 8 hours a day, five days a week?" you'd say, "It's my job." Same deal here.
In other words, asking a commercial author how to stick to doujin deadlines might not be super helpful.
Better to ask someone who’s juggling a day job and still breezing through doujin submissions, or those rare breeds who manage both commercial works and early submissions for Comitia, and yet even have the time to casually drop masterpieces on pixiv (and the nerve to call them "doodles").
But there may be a sneaky hint hidden in the "it's a job, so I get it done" spiel.
Why do we stick to deadlines and endure the unbearable for work? First, for the paycheck. Then, the looming threat of getting chewed out for breaking promises or tarnishing our own reputation, and of course, the desire not to inconvenience our company and colleagues.
The fact that the only time you hit the early-bird deadline was when you were in charge of an anthology tells me that you've got a strong sense of responsibility, especially when it comes to not being a burden on others.
In contrast, if it’s just your own boat you’re rocking, it's way too easy to hit the snooze button or bail.
That's why diets often failーthey flop because nobody else loses a limb and no exotic birds die every time you sneak a midnight snack.
So, why not involve others in your doujin activities? Even one guest contribution could light a fire under you, fueling a sense of duty that's impossible to ignore.
Announcing on X that your next doujinshi will definitely be an early submission might also shift your mindset.
It's not your job, so no need to beat yourself up
But instead of treating it like a job and going all in, it might be quicker and easier to remind yourself that... well, it's not your job.
If you're constantly reserving spots at doujinshi fairs and then bailing with incomplete manuscripts, leaving empty seats in your wake, then yeah, a change might be due. But if you're pulling through at the last minute, isn't that kind of okay?
Truth be told, even among the pros, some treat deadlines like a game of chicken, even going as far as twisting famous quotes to their advantage, like, "A deadline's not dead until I say it is."
Basically, in the world of professional authors, time management and early submissions are super rare too.
With that in mind, you could say that you're fretting about not being able to sprint faster than Usain Boltーa worry that shouldn't even be on your radar.
Your self-loathing isn't about laziness or lack of talent; it's more like you've set the bar unrealistically high. Instead of pushing yourself harder, why not take it a bit easier with your doujin activities?
Cutting costs is fine, but don't put your hobby on the chopping block
I get itーwith the rising costs nowadays, who wouldn't want to save on printing by taking advantage of an early-bird discount? Yet, letting the concept of "budgeting" seep into your hobby might not be the healthiest mindset.
You sound like someone at a doujinshi fair complaining about wanting them all but needing to stay on budget, all while standing in front of a mountain of naughty artbooks. It's hard not to see that and think, "What a waste to be surrounded by such treasure and still be more concerned about saving pennies."
Budgeting isn't about skimping on snacks or sodas; it's about cutting back on things that don't matter as much to you. If the highlight of your day is that post-work Fanta Grape, that's not where you should be looking to make cuts.
Doujinshi has been your cherished hobby for 20 years. Surely there are less important expenses you can trim?
I'm just saying, maybe it's worth splurging on your doujin endeavors and finding other ways to save cash. Opt for that hologram-laden deluxe edition because you know it'll bring you joy rather than worry about how it'll hurt your bottom line.
Going all out at this age is a one-way ticket to the grave
However, I also get wanting to avoid last-minute submissions because they're taking a toll on your health now that you're forty. Yet, as we age, our physical stamina decreases, and our hands don't move as quickly, making it a monumental task to increase your drafting speed. The only real option is to start earlier, but we all know how believing there's still plenty of time leads to a scattered focus and, inevitably, a rush job at the end.
Given that gritting your teeth and going all out at this age might lead you straight to the grave, maybe you should stop trying to meet your manuscript halfway and instead start requiring it to respect its elders.
This could mean decreasing the page count of your books or participating in fewer events.
Sure, that might sound a bit sad, but if you want to continue enjoying doujin activities in a healthy way, you've got to find a way that aligns with your stamina and well-being.
Another thing I recommend is drawing in the morning.
Tackling your manuscript post-work, when your concentration and energy are already depleted, often leads to a vicious cycle of unproductive sessions and sleep deprivation.
We middle-aged folks may jest about being tired the moment we wake up, but even so, mornings are when we're as charged as we're ever going to be. Rather than aimlessly drawing for three hours at night, try going to bed early and dedicating a focused 30 minutes in the morning. You might find that it is more efficient, yields higher quality work, and, of course, is better for your health.
"I need to work harder" VS "I'm already doing plenty"
But honestly, there's no need to be that hard on yourself.
Keeping up with work hours and deadlines, and also aiming to hit the early-bird deadline in your hobby is practically like having no days off at all. It's less about being commendable and more akin to self-imposed labor law violations, warranting a visit to the Labor Standards Bureau. So, maybe it's time to shift your mindset from "I need to work harder" to "I'm already doing plenty."
Hobbies, especially creative work, are supposed to be a safe haven from the relentless exhaustion of reality, a place to find a sense of achievement and validation you can't get from society. Setting goals that lead to exhaustion, defeat, and self-loathing isn't the way to go.
If you managed to finish your manuscript on time, you already deserve an A. Stop doing the toxic parent act on yourself with thoughts like, "Could I have pushed for an A+?" Instead, commend yourself for making deadlines for 20 years, even if it's always at the last minute. And if you do happen to miss one, well... it's not the end of the world, is it?
As a side note, for commercial authors, there are real economic and career stakes involved, so this kind of reasoning might not work for you. But where it does apply, it's worth a shot.