Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Deadlines. Love them or loathe them, they are a necessary part of being a writer. If you are anything like me, if it wasn't for deadlines, you'd probably never get anything written at all.

The main problem I have with deadlines (and I suspect I'm not the only one) is a problem of balance. If I start a piece too far in advance of a deadline, like I know I probably should, it can feel flat and lifeless as I'm writing it and I find it difficult to motivate myself to get over the finishing line.

On the other hand, if I leave it too close to the deadline, I feel anxious and stressed and probably don't produce my best work as it is likely to be rushed and "thrown together".

Although I am a great believer in the "salami" technique where you break a large task down into small, manageable slices and then allocate a slice to each day of the week or however you want to organise it, this never seems to work that well for deadlines. I find it difficult to know exactly when to take off the first "slice" and if I'm too organised, I miss the adrenaline rush that you get as the deadline looms and you are forced into producing something that comes over as fresh and immediate, probably because you only started writing it three hours before it was due in.

Talking of deadlines, I have an urgent one to attend to which is probably why I am posting this instead of getting on with trying to meet it. Because that's another thing with deadlines. The nearer they get, the more they lull you into a false sense of security that the story or article which is still largely inside your head, will somehow miraculously make it on to the page without you having to do very much at all.      


  1. How true! I am a real last-minute merchant. Like you, if I start something off too soon it lacks life and inspiration. I have never quite managed to get the balance right.

  2. Thanks, Vanessa. That's made me feel a lot better!