For me, deadlines are essential. They keep me moving along on projects, keep me on track, establish a fixed end point. But, sometimes they jump around. Occasionally, a market will extend a deadline, for mysterious reasons. This can be a relief, but it can also cause me to slack off. Other times, a deadline gets advanced. Recently I had a November 15 deadline for an essay. This was not an assignment, but a response to a call for manuscripts, so if, for some reason, I didn’t get it in on time, no one would know but me. On the other hand, I found out about the call less that a week before the cutoff date. I had roughed out the first draft right away, but then, the next day, I got a idea for an upcoming story contest, and spent the morning crafting a first draft of that piece. Now there were only three days left to submit the essay. Suddenly, that night, I remembered that the power company would be shutting off the electricity for an entire day–the day before my essay deadline. Which meant if I didn’t get the essay off the day before that, which was the very next day, I’d be stuck with rushing it off Just under the wire. That’s a dangerous practice. All too often, when I’ve done that, I’ve discovered one more fact I need to research, or my Internet connection goes kerflooey or some other crisis trips me up. So, my “new” deadline was now two days before the official one. I succeeded in finishing and submitting the essay on the 13th, and was happy with the result, whether the editor likes it or not. It was a reinforcement of good practices. Start early. Factor in other circumstances. Act quickly on new ideas, before they fade. Now to finish and submit my next project–deadline in two days.