Friday, 18 January 2013



As the sun sets, somewhere in the world another deadline looms.....

. As writers we often talk about 
          DEADLINES - in capital letters.

 You may have a deadline for an application for a grant, perhaps to allow a research trip, or a visit to a conference or  to allow time, without financial penalties, to write the next book.

Another deadline might be to apply for a post as a writer in residence. This may be on an island,  in a university, on a form of transport (ships, trains or buses), in a hospital or a prison.

 The original meaning of the word deadline was to describe a boundary line a few feet outside a prison. Prisoners crossing the deadline ran the risk of being shot.

If you are working towards a deadline imposed by a publisher it is thankfully not quite as deadly if you miss the date by which you are expected to deliver a book, or at least a completed first draft.. But it can upset your publisher if you are very late delivering your book, especially if you miss deadlines often. It is possibly better to ask for more time before the dreaded deadline has passed!   Writing to a deadline is not always easy.  Sometimes the plot goes awry, the characters refuse to play and go off piste, and you are convinced the whole thing should be consigned to the bin!

Douglas Adams is quoted as saying
'I love deadlines.
 I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.'

If a deadline is a long way off there is always the temptation to leave things for a while. All too soon that deadline is too close and there is too much to do and too little time.

Personally I like deadlines. I find they focus the mind, stimulate creativity and make me write. It stops me procrastinating, finding all the other things that are pushing to take up hours of my day when I could be living with my characters and polishing a plot.

 Do you like deadlines or loathe them?


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage/ YA novels and a writing handbook Writing For Children 

Her latest novel is Don't Judge Me  published by Strident 2012 
'Strachan has done it again - a story that brings real teenagers to the page, caught in situations that they really find themselves.'  Ourbookreviewsonline.



Nicky said...

I'm afraid I can't do anything at all without a deadline - even clean the house...

Emma Barnes said...

I've got lots of deadlines this year, so I'm hoping they do indeed focus the mind and help me enjoy my writing!

Sue Purkiss said...

I never knew that was the origin of the word!

Linda Strachan said...

Nicky - I agree. Deadlines make you get things done.

Emma - I'm sure you will meet them all!

Sue - I love it when I discover that words we use all the time have interesting origins.