alert! alert! deadline approaching!

What do you do when you have treacle for brains and you grind to a halt in the middle of a commission.

There are plenty of creative writing exercises which can fire your blasters up again and masses of writers' prompts to spark off new ideas. Tony Buzan's mind mapping for example, or using Julia Cameron's guides to discovering or recovering your creativity.

But cripes. The deadline is next day or tonight or in two hours' time. Deadlines! You don't miss deadlines. Not ever. Not unless you don't want clients.

First, don't panic!

Get things into perspective. Yes, you have a deadline, but be kind to yourself. As a dear friend of mine says, does anyone need a bandage? Is anyone bleeding? It's simply an arrangement between you and your client that you will have some writing ready for them. That's easier to manage than sitting there frozen in front of the computer and watching the clock as though Jaws is booked to chew your leg off.

It's a piece of writing. Start breaking it down into bite-sized - errrr - ! no, paragraphs. How many words does this need to be - break that wordcount into introduction, body and conclusion. Three main points for the body? Four? Write them down.

Now start anywhere but at the beginning. You can write the beginning last otherwise you will stare at it and be back where you were before, sweating.

Develop the main points and do whatever research you need for each one.

Put everything else out of your mind and imagine this is a piece of work to save a mate's life. No, really! It works, simply because your focus and impetus are temporarily motivated by an imagined urgency. It's important. It's not about you and your writing, it's about them.

Once you've got the middle and the end done, work on the beginning. And that's a piece of banana cream pie because you've just written what the piece is about so all you have to do is introduce it.

If you've got time, leave it to sit for a while so you can go back and look at it with a critical eye. If it's due any minute now, then still give it the once over for bloops and typos but remember right now that sense of calm you had writing the piece. All because you managed to distance yourself from your own worries.

Deadlines need a different name, anyhow. I call them work dates. Much more fun :-)
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