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Am I the only one who waits until it's really far too late before writing anything? I know writers will do anything to delay the time when they actually have to do any writing, even if the delaying tactic is to do more (but different) writing, like this blog entry for instance. But I think my problem is more than that. Deep down in my psyche, I think I've failed if I submit early. What will I do with all those pressure free spare hours when I don't have a deadline to panic about? Other, more organised people look at me smugly as they go on with their ordered, regimented lives but me? Timewasting followed by frenzied catching up.

I need deadlines, otherwise I'd never focus on anything (random, sloppy, unfinished novels in my bottom drawer testify to that little problem). But what do I see when I see a deadline far, far into the distance? I see plenty of free time. I think I need the adrenalin rush of knowing that I have three hours to do six hours worth of work, or that I need to beat the odds to succeed. And I'm convinced I do my best work under pressure. But, really, do I? On New Year's Eve I annoyed friends and family by shutting myself off in a room writing the last 4,000 words of a 10,000 word piece I needed to send off for a competition (I started a few days early on this one - even I know I can't write 10,000 words in one day). And boy was I pleased with myself. Met the deadline, pass me a glass of champagne. And what I story! Great, spontaneous flowing prose, subtle imagery, astounding character development. Er, but it was, essentially, a first draft. And when I came to look at it properly the next day with a slightly less manic eye I noticed all the things I should have spotted if I'd only finished a day early. Or, given the amount of time I spent working on my deadline pressure keg over Christmas, two weeks early. It needs a different opening. It needs a different ending. Some of that great prose needs the purple bits cutting out. It needs to lose the flab in the middle. And it needs to lose all the spelling mistakes and punctuation errors the spellcheck didn't pick up on. Etc etc etc.

So here I am again, one month on. This time I only need 3,000 words and I have a whole four days left before the end of the month. Ah but I've also promised 2,000 words to write by tomorrow for a writing workshop, and a 3,000 word commissioned non-fiction piece which was due yesterday (and which would have been in yesterday, only I accidentally stumbled on the information that the real deadline is two weeks away. Except that I'm now cutting into someone else's review time, and normal people hate chasing tight deadlines, apparently). Plus it's Saturday and I have essential socialising to do. Can I break this cycle?

Problem is I don't want to (the best work is work under pressure delusion). Problem is I must (hit deadlines, properly review work before it goes, catch all of New Year parties and not just the last (but essential) five minutes before midnight).

Bummer. I need to make myself a cup of coffee and think about all this. And maybe catch up on some TV...