5 Ways To Deal With Difficult Deadlines

5 Ways To Deal With Difficult Deadlines


‘I am one of those people who thrive on deadlines; nothing brings on inspiration more readily than desperation.’ – Harry Shearer

When I am faced with a challenging deadline, I do two things:

  1. I repack and tidy my stationery drawer.
  2. I write a blog post about it.

As you can guess, my drawer is very tidy and yes, you are reading a blog post about a deadline. It’s due. I like deadlines. They are good for me.

5 Ways To Deal With Difficult Deadlines

Here are five tips that normally keep me on track:

  1. Save the date: I write it down. It becomes concrete, real, a goal, a commitment, a non-negotiable. I write it on my blackboard. I put it in my diary. I save it on my phone. With multiple reminders.
  2. Brainstorm: Even if I am not writing. I am thinking about it. I make notes. Everywhere.
  3. Manage your time: Make an appointment if you have too, but make sure you have a dedicated time to write.
  4. Trust the process, but don’t miss the deadline. Part of my process is packing the drawer, weeding the garden, and washing the car. But I know when to stop. It is called panic. That’s part of the process too.
  5. Just write. Sometimes a deadline is tight and there is no way a sane person could do it, but we seem to manage. Sometimes a deadline is realistic and practical and gives you enough time. Those are deadly to me. Either way, free writing helps to get me going. I add my brainstorming notes and perhaps a glass of wine and then I meet my deadline.

5 Ways To Deal With Difficult Deadlines

This post, as you know, should have been up last Wednesday, but when you deal with deadlines, you will learn about a wonderful thing called an extension.

Here’s how to ask:

  1. Bribery. Find their poison and go all out. Amanda Patterson likes books and cappuccinos.
  2. Only ask for one extension at a time. I made sure all my other work was extra up-to-date.
  3. Do not miss the second deadline. You will damage future asking privileges.
  4. Smile, flatter and refer to the first point.

That said, Michael Robotham told me about an author friend of his who missed her novel deadline and three people at the publishing house lost their jobs. Trust me, you do not want that on your conscience. That story has haunted me since. Contracts, new jobs and your income depend on them.

Deadlines are good. Take them seriously and get out your own way.

If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

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Mia Botha by Mia Botha

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