Deadlines: Make ’em and Break ’em

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams

They’re a funny thing, deadlines. In my day job, they really can’t be broken unless there is a very plausible reason… an event outwith your control, preferably a disastrous mistake caused by someone else. There’s no room for whiny excuses of the ‘my dog ate my homework’ type when you’re dealing with pharmaceuticals and clinical trials.



In the writing world, however, it seems that they’re made to be broken. There’s some wiggle room. It’s not the end of the world if you deliver your manuscript a few days late. No one will die. Apparently. Although I suppose there could be knock-on effects that won’t earn you many brownie points with your publisher. I wouldn’t actually know, as I set my own deadline for my first novel, Black Wood and I don’t have one at the moment – hence why I am earning a first class degree in procrastination.

I like deadlines. They work for me. Having no deadline makes me lazy and restless. My mind flitters and flutters from one place to the next, hence why I haven’t actually written another book yet… I’ve got an endless number of ideas and I have written lots of words. They’re just not all in the same book.

On 28th June, 2013 – the day I met my agent in his office and signed up with him – I had written 40,000 words. He asked when I could deliver the full manuscript. Edited, of course (so a third draft, in practical terms). I said I’d have it to him on 31st July… a mere 4.5 weeks. I don’t know how, but I did it. I even had a long weekend in Harrogate in the middle of it. In fact, I sent it to him a day early. Then he told me he was off on holiday for two weeks and would read it when he got back! Aaargh!

So here I am with Book 2 (it does have a title, I’m just not quite ready to share it yet)… I haven’t got a deadline, so I am setting my own. Today is the 1st April, and, no – this is not an April Fool’s joke… I have 10,834 words. I’m setting myself a deadline of 6 weeks to finish some form of readable draft.That’s 13th May. An average of 12,000 words per week, with a week spare for a first-edit. I’m basing all this on me having a little bit of time off work… as yet, unconfirmed. Let’s see how I get on 🙂

In the words of Dr Pepper… “what’s the worst that could happen?”

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P.S. Did I mention I’m also planning to sketch out some words of another book at the same time? No? I think I might have officially lost the plot 😉