As Douglas Adams famously said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” Douglas Adams never fails to make me laugh, but I love deadlines for another reason.
They have power.
First, they have inspiring power over me. Were it not for deadlines, I would likely still be in college, waiting for the date when a paper was due. Yes, I was the one in the library the night before, finally deciding to check out some research books so that I could spend the night pounding out a paper on a, brace yourself, manual typewriter. Hey, not only did those things not have a backspace, I actually had to reach up and yank a silver bar to move the carriage down to the next line. (Think enter key. Yes. Like that.)
As Ally pointed out in her blog on the ever-present demon of Procrastination, a writer’s mind will seize any distractions to keep him or her off task. My butt is more likely to stick to the office chair when I say the magic word “Deadline.” There is nothing quite like a deadline to drag all sorts of ideas from a pantser like me.
Deadlines also have, to quote Steven Colbert, gravitas. Deadlines are a word I can invoke against those non book people in my world., the ones who don’t understand that these fictional people are actually quite important (and often more interesting) than they are. If you’re a reader, you know what I’m talking about, those people who intrude when all you want to do is capture a few more moments with your book. I have a suggestion. Start a review site (and no one has to know that it will always be “in the planning stages”) and start chanting the magic phrase: “Sorry. Can’t talk now. Deadline.”
There are a few important people who cannot be swayed by the magic word. My characters. They love deadlines too, because they think it’s a wonderful time to say, “I think we need a few more sex scenes to work this out” or “No way, I’m not telling him that” and especially “Oooo. But what if this happened now?” Those lovely people in my head are completely unmoved by such mundane things as deadlines, word counts and day jobs. And the other magic word please doesn’t cut it with them either.
When it comes down to it, they will have their way. It is their story after all, every hot, sexy, oh-crap-now-I-need-another-chapter bit of it. But when it comes to dealing with the outside world, I’ll keep saying my magic word.