Do You Need a Deadline to Write? I do.

I like deadlines.

I need deadlines.

Back when I worked the police beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I faced four deadlines a day. Many times, I had to run from a crime scene, find a pay phone, and dictate the story off the top of my head in order to meet that final two o’clock deadline.

The nerves were pulsating.

The adrenaline was pumping.

I never felt better in my life.

My whole physical and mental system was connected to deadlines.

Then I went to Southern Living Magazine and had two deadlines a month.

I went crazy.

I traveled a lot. I wandered the hallways. I hung around with Gerald Crawford in the photographic department. We thumbed through the photographs, looking for a cover shot.

I was bored. I had nothing to do.

I waited until deadline day to knock out every story I had planned to write that month.

Times have passed. Nothing has changed.

I still need the deadlines.

I woke up a month or so ago and realized that I was spending so much time floating and promoting on our Caleb and Linda Pirtle Website that I never seemed to get around to writing my next novel.

I thought I was busy. Hell, I was busy. Tweets. Triberr. Blogs, Stumble Upon. Google Plus. LinkedIn. You know the drill.

But here’s the real secret, Stephen Woodfin told me. To sell books, you have to write more books. I wasn’t writing more books. I wasn’t even writing the next book.

I needed a deadline.

So Stephen and I came up with the idea of connecting with authors to produce serials, chapter by chapter of a novel, on the Website. These were works in progress. We were writing on the fly. As I’ve said, we were writing without a net. Make a mistake. Correct it when the novel is finished. Decide a character is a drag with nothing to offer. Lose him, or her, on the re-write. But keep running hard, full speed ahead. For us all, it was a lot of short dashes that would lead to a marathon.

And I have a deadline. Every day, I have a deadline.

Sit down every night and write tomorrow’s chapter. Jump in the dark and see if you and find a light at the end of a thousand words.

Nerves are pulsating again.

The adrenaline is pumping.

I don’t know if anyone else wants to read what shows up tomorrow.

But, frankly, I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I have a deadline. I feel like I’m alive again.

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