I know this is not a phrase you hear from many writers but I love deadlines – and not merely for the whooshing noise they make which so entertained Douglas Adams. I love deadlines because they focus me. If I have years and years to complete a project I do not, as some sensible folk do, plan it out, break down the work into chunks and do a certain amount per month. I suspect that isn’t how most writers work either; to judge by the jokes on the subject, a two-year project would consist of eighteen months procrastination, five months fiddling and one month pure panic. I, on the other hand, need an incentive to get me going and a deadline provides that incentive. If the end of a project is two years away I’m likely to get bored, but give me a deadline in two months and I’m on it, even if I have no chance of getting finished within that time. It’s a little like the crisis inducer in The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which brings on a crisis to sharpen your wits when needed. So what I need is basically a Deadline Inducer to bring on a deadline and sharpen my desire to work: some button I can press which makes a voice in my head say, ‘the deadline’s next Monday! This has to be in by next Monday! You need to complete this by the 4th!’ and so on. Come to think of it, Douglas Adams should have had one of those…
Having said that, the deadline for the radio play has whooshed by without my play being submitted as it became increasingly obvious that the thing was mushrooming and could not be wrestled into shape any time soon. On the other hand I have sent one short story, three pieces of flash fiction and three poems to various magazines well within their respective deadlines. So brownie points to me.
Where do I go to get brownie points?