Deadline, thou art my muse

There are plenty of elements that comprise creativity, but sometimes the most important one is the inspiration created by a deadline.

The professional writer’s gift is that we know that if we just sit down to write, we can push through and come up with something that is, at the least, presentable.

DeadlineI recently attended a panel discussion. I had promised the organizer that I would take notes and then produce a press release that could be sent to a local news reporter. I had several other tasks to complete that day and after the seminar I pushed the press release assignment aside. Then the organizer emailed me: “Will you still be able to do a release? If so, how soon can you turn it around? Hoping to get something to the reporter tomorrow.”

I had an hour before I had to be somewhere else.

So I took deep breath and found the notes. Instead of reading through them to get a sense of the best way to pull all the ideas together, I started typing the panelists’ quotes onto my computer screen. Then I wrote an opening paragraph that reflected a big idea most of the panelists had expressed. I added transition sentences and found a quote from the organizer for the ending. I had five minutes to edit as I read it through one more time. Then I sent it off to her.

It was fine. Everyone who had volunteered their time on the panel was named and quoted. The press release is not prose that will live forever, but it nailed the main ideas.

I went to my next appointment.

I know plenty of people who are good writers and who have excellent ideas that should be committed to blogs, web pages or even books. But they have trouble getting started, and even more frequently, finishing.

That’s why the threatening, fear-inducing, sweat-producing deadline is so useful.

Email me at if you would like to discuss how to fill your website, blog page, or another word-based project, with clear and concise writing – on time.

About Paul

I grew up in Marin County, California, and moved to Connecticut to join The News-Times, a community newspaper in Danbury where I eventually served as editor for 10 years. I joined Western Connecticut State University and ran the PR and development offices. I now serve as director of community relations and public affairs. I have four kids, all with the same wife, and now run Writing Associates, a consulting service that makes writing easier for my clients.