I've always hated that word. It reminds
me too much of words like "homework" and "chore." You know, those
really nasty concepts that could ruin entire weekends.
took a long time for me to realize how important deadlines are.
I was published, back when I wrote only fiction, deadlines were a
rather aloof topic. People would ask when I would write a book or get a
story out. The truth was that I didn't know. I always answered in
vague timetables like "later" or "this year."
got tired of my own procrastination and started working for a local
newspaper. That's where I learned how to write and how to write fast.
longer could I tell someone "I'll write it later" or "this year."
Stories were due often a few hours after I interviewed someone.
first, this terrified me. I had always told myself that I could write a
really good story if I were given more time. I'll admit that sometimes
that's true, but procrastination is never the answer.
2010, I pushed myself to the limit by signing up for what became a 22
part series for my newspaper. I had always wanted to do a series, and I
was thinking big--something that would really make me stick out. I
wanted to profile prominent Mainers for their success across the state.
meant I would have to snag interviews with busy hard-to-reach people,
write stories and turn them in well before my usual deadline. My editor
wanted it to be a front-page series, so there was no fudging the
dates. I agreed, and to this day, I surprised myself.
I took this picture
in 2010 when I interviewed author and actress Victoria Rowell. It made
the front page along with my story. Everyone I knew was shocked that I
got to meet her. In Maine, she's known from her roles in prime-time
series like "Diagnosis Murder" and "Dumb and Dumber" with Jim Carey.
that time, I interviewed people like Victoria Rowell from "The Young
and the Restless," former Maine governor Angus King, UFC Fighters
Marcus Davis and Tim Boetsch, and New York Times Bestselling author Tess
Gerritsen, among many others.
I churned the stories
out as fast as I could because half my time was spent scheduling
interviews, some of which never worked out.
more importantly, I learned more about myself and what I could
accomplish. I just needed a deadline to do it.
Here's a pic
of UFC fighter Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch (right) in action. Due to
his training schedule, I wasn't able to meet Tim, but he spoke to me
over an hour on the phone. His UFC record is an impressive 16-4. He
knocked this opponent, Mike Patt, out in the first round at UFC 88.
learned that there are too many stories that need attention. As a
writer, each one is a step in improving your craft.
is a lot like lifting weights. If you want to see results, you don't
start working out the night before your big date. You have to do it
consistently over time.
Sometimes you won't lift that
much. Sometimes you might drop the weights. But what matters is that
you're doing it. Only by lifting weights do you see results, and only
by writing do you finish a story.
The thing I hated
most--the deadline--helped me finally become a writer. Now with more
than 200 articles published in various newspapers and magazines, I've
come to recognize the deadline as an ally in the continuous battle
If you need to organize your
ideas, make a deadline. Nothing will light a fire like that.
you want to write fiction every week, create a writers group. Nothing
will make you write more than sharing your work with others on a regular
Only writing will make you a writer, and if
you're anything like me, you need a deadline to make you write.