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DEADLINE: IMPOSSIBLE by Deborah Riley-Magnus

Is there anything more terrifying than a looming deadline?

Whether it’s a weight loss goal before bikini season, tax fear of April 15th, or a publishing deadline, it can rattle the nerves in ways that seriously mess up our stomach for weeks.

Just think about the deadlines we put on ourselves. Getting to work on time. Getting the kids to school/soccer/the dentist/boy or girl scout meetings on time. Dinner on the table by six. Car in for an oil change every 3,000 miles. Annual mammogram. Get to the gym every day. Refill the birth control pills prescription. The pets’ quarterly flea and tick treatments. We need regular teeth cleaning. Thaw out the turkey for Thanksgiving. Christmas shopping by December 24th. Biweekly mani/pedi. Pay the utilities. Plant those flowers in the spring. Trim them back in the fall. Multiple doctor appointments for our elderly parents. Get all those birthday and anniversary cards out on time. Cook the zucchini before it goes bad. Don’t forget to get the garbage out on garbage day. Remember which week is recycling week.

We put A LOT of pressure on ourselves, and every one of these things have critical deadlines, and repercussions if missed. Ask my poor, itching dog. Somewhere in the middle of all this craziness, we can just maybe fit in a shower.

So, tell me, why do we make the thing we love most, writing, part of this deadline circus that is our lives?

It could be a publisher, a writing coach, an editor, or even ourselves, but no matter how much time we allow to complete the writing of our current work in progress… it ALWAYS comes down to a break-neck deadline. At least that’s the way it works for me.


My current work in progress is a perfect example. It’s book two of a trilogy. Now I’m blessed to already know exactly what happens next, and next, and next in each of the three books, so this should be a piece of cake, right? Needless to say, I’m not a pantser. The plan for all three books was put together before book one was even started. The trilogy plan took three years of research, germination, and cultivation. Book one of the trilogy required a full year to be written, run past my loyal and wonderful stable of readers who catch all the wholes and character name spelling mistakes, then go to my editor who polishes it like a diamond. Then there’s cover design for all three books to assure continuity, gorgeous interior design, and finally publishing. It worked like a charm.

So, I figured the second book would take the same amount of time, or possibly less, to write.



Book one of the trilogy was released in late November 2018. I began writing book two in December of 2018. Between December of 2018 and June of 2019, I had written a total of … 20,000 words. Book one was 94,000 words. I was officially facing a serious, gut-crunching dilemma. Did I become best friends with the mother of all failure techniques—procrastination? So, I blocked off the summer to just write and nothing else. On the first day of August I had … OMG… 20,000 words. ARRRGH!


How on earth was I going to meet my deadline and release book two of this trilogy by the end of November? It felt impossible. What to do, what to do? These ideas actually crossed my mind.

Forget the deadline

Yes, I seriously thought that was a good idea for a split second. Just forget the deadline and all the readers waiting for book two. Then I realized, that wasn’t going to happen. I know me. I had to get this finished or I’d go nuts.


I mean, why not? It would definitely take the edge off as my deadline raced past me in the hallway. Not gonna happen. Without the stress, how would I know I had a deadline, right?


Yes, that might be the solution. Pretend I really meant November of 2020. Ha! It could work, but I didn’t like that because it would seriously mess with the third and final book’s 2020 deadline. Crap.


It works for everything else. The problem is that I can actually eat chocolate and write at the same time. It makes the process more pleasant and my waistline even more wide, but the deadline’s still there.

More chocolate

Okay. Maybe that’s just me.

Set daily word count goals

That might work. But how big would those daily word count goals have to be? Would it include weekends and holidays? Based on the time left, no less than 3,000 words a day might work. Could I do that? I remember when I wrote 6,000 words a day. Oh yeah, not that long ago, for book one.

Join a critique group

Just what I need, more time taken away from my keyboard to meet with people who just might make me feel guilty for not meeting my deadline. Sheesh.

In the end I know with my whole heart that I want to meet this deadline, impossible be damned. It’s time to put on my big girl writer panties and do what I have to do. Write. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and WRITE.

That’s what it takes. Well, that and a coach to kick said butt into action. And guess what? She’s wonderful and it’s working! At this moment I am at a whopping 75,000 words! I’m going to make it!

When faced with a Deadline: Impossible, every author has to step up and decide what he or she really wants. Me, I want to be a consistent, strong, reliable writer who always delivers a book people want to read. These are as important as the deadline, but the deadline has always been the catalyst for me. Everyone’s not the same.

Deadlines don’t define us. We do. Be fair and reasonable with yourself when setting deadlines. Take all the crazy elements that are part of your life into consideration. Be gentle, but be tough, too. Shoot for the stars and maybe we’ll all get there together. And if facing down that deadline gets too rough; I promise to send chocolate.

So, how do you deal with your Deadline: Impossible?

Love this?

Join Deb in September, October, and November for the PRISM MARKETING SYSTEM Live Webinar Workshops series.


Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author

Marketing is a very scary prospect for authors. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land without an embassy to help explain the culture. None of this is true. It isn’t marketing that’s the issue—it’s a fear and general misunderstanding of marketing in relation to an author’s talents and skill set.

Authors are creative people who solve problems within their imagination. Just because they’ve never been creative within the marketing universe does not mean they can’t. In fact, the more creative a marketing author is, the further they step away from the competition, and the more book sales success they will find.

Write Brain/Left Brain is the goose with the golden egg. These pages open doors to thinking outside the box and away from the noisy competition. It encourages authors to see the bigger book buying world, imaginatively seek out broader audiences, and always trust their creative nose to accomplish their book sales goals. This book is designed to remove an author’s fear of marketing and replace it with the inventive possibilities specific to the book marketed.

Authors, open your mind and take the empowering leap into the astonishing, imaginative marketing playground.


Awesome, heart-centered help from someone who really knows what she’s doing.

Demi Stevens, owner, Year of The Book Press


Before spending time with Deborah Riley-Magnus, I thought marketing was the devil—or at least beyond my capabilities—so I did little to promote my books. The proof was in my sales which were great with my friends, and friends of friends, but did little more than that. After working with Deb, I have a whole new outlook, realize there are many creative ways of marketing, and am excited about my next steps. I write books I know my readers will love… now I’m ready to go find my audience.

Gloria Baer Bostic, Author


Deb’s marketing advice made a world of difference in how I described a book I was querying. Using what she taught me in my query letter got agent attention immediately. I started getting requests for my manuscript where before I wouldn’t hear anything. I’ll always consult with Deb before querying. She’s a treasure!

Jen Sako, Author

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach with forty-plus years professional background in marketing, advertising, and public rela...