Deadlines–The Good, the Bad and… any Ugly?

By Linda O. Johnston


calendar and writingI’m a writer.

Writers have deadlines.

If we’re traditionally published, they’re set by the publisher, with our agreement.  If we’re self published, they’re largely set by ourselves.

I’ve been doing this for a while and generally consider deadlines my friends.  They certainly keep me moving.

Recently I’ve been under deadlines for four Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels.  I met the first two with no problem, but I’d agreed to the third being shorter than usual thinking I could meet it anyway–but I had to ask for an extension.

I just turned in that manuscript.

DEADLINE1Now I’m working on the fourth of those books. I’m first doing a synopsis and three chapters to turn in, then finishing the rest of the manuscript.  I have a few months, so I should be fine. But right now I’m looking at all the weekend events, panels and more, that I’ve agreed to in the near future. Then there will be a visit from some dear family members that will probably use up a week. And an annual trip that has been extended to see those family members at their home. So… well, I’m worried about meeting that deadline.

After I do?  Well, I’m not sure what I’m writing next.  I’m hoping to do more mysteries, but I’m not under any contracts.  And I’d enjoy writing more romantic suspense books as well.

But after that deadline is over, I have some trips planned, so I’ll have to be careful.

Okay, I’m not the only one with deadlines. And I had all kinds of other deadlines when I was also a practicing attorney. Nearly everyone has deadlines in their lives. Do you? Writing deadlines? Work deadlines? Family deadlines?

calendar for deadlineYes, deadlines are a part of life.

What do you think of the ones in your life? Do you face them down and stare at them and meet them? Or do you cringe when you think of them?

Or do you want more of them, as I do?



lindaphotoLinda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries.  She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.



This article was posted for Linda O. Johnston by Jackie Houchin




Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

11 thoughts on “Deadlines–The Good, the Bad and… any Ugly?”

  1. Deadlines and priorities. Sometimes you are contractually obligated to meet a deadline and you do your darnedest to meet that deadline, but then life steps in and there are priorities… your health, your family, your pet (which is actually part of your family), so you have to decide which is really the most important. But luckily, sometimes you can actually juggle all the above. But that takes practice and guts. I’ll be anxious to see what you write after your deadlines are met.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmmm. Thinking about your former life as an attorney, when I worked in insurance, attorney’s offices were required to have at least three different followup or “tickler” systems in place. I wonder if that would work for writers? Personally, I think I would lose track of my systems, but it might be worth a try. Thanks for the prod about meeting deadlines. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t have “ticklers” while I practiced law, but I certainly had to keep track of all my deadlines for writing and negotiating contracts. Now, I use at least two calendars to keep track!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deadlines are the only ways I accomplish anything. I’m a procrastinator, wait till the last minute, then work like mad. I know it’s not the ideal way, but I’m stuck in it. I admire anyone who can juggle two or three!


    1. I’ve always liked to be early for everything I do, and that includes meeting deadlines–although that’s often more difficult than, say, arriving early for a meeting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post and discussion. I have no deadlines (lucky publisher(very small) takes when I’m finished) and only have to do other book things like festivals, book signings etc. only a couple times a year like the Newberry Springs Pistachio Festival. Otherwise, what will be, will be these days. (do have a book signing this Sat night at a The Barn Bar, should be fun! Sounds like you do a great job of juggling and meeting deadlines on many fronts. Takes a certain talent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea of a publisher that’s happy whenever you provide your manuscript–but I also like to meet deadlines to get as many books published as possible. Your signings and festivals sound enjoyable.


  5. Linda, just reading your post exhausts me. So many books simultaneously! Amazing. I like deadlines that like Jackie I learned very quickly in the newsroom where you got fired if you didn’t produce a story within a couple of hours. Organization is a priority, too – making file folders and filling them at night watching TV. Thank you for a glimpse into your writing life.


  6. I don’t mind writing deadlines. I can’t say the same for some of the ones I faced in my “day” jobs—they tended to be moving targets.


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