Close-up of Timex watch hands

Copywriting tip 26: Deadlines

Timex watch close up - trimmed

Picture this: the Mystery Box challenge on Masterchef.

The contestants get their box of ingredients. Sixty minutes to cook an amazing meal.

Off they go.

At the 35-minute mark, half the chefs sit back. They’re done. Dish complete.

How would we, the viewer, feel?

Cheated, probably.

Surely they should use every minute, every second?


Just like us writing copy.

Copy is never finished. There’s always a word to delete. A three-syllable word that could be a two-syllable one. A comma that could be turned into a full stop.

The only reason we ever produce something is because we have a deadline.

One of my clients once gave me what they thought was a great deadline: ‘Get it to me when you’re ready, Jon!’.

Nope. That’s terrible.


Because it’ll never be ready. Never perfect. The only reason I hit ‘send’ is because the client’s screaming for their overdue copy.

I can’t write about deadlines without mentioning my favourite quote – from Douglas Adams:

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.’

(That’s by way of an apology to my clients.)

Like the contestants on Masterchef, our job is to take the ingredients we’re given. Produce something the judges love. And do it (roughly) on time.

Instead of fighting deadlines, embrace them.

Not unreasonable ones, of course.

But a meal you make when you’ve got 15 minutes is different to the one you make when you’ve got an hour.

Deadlines shape the end result. As much as the budget, and the brief.

So, with my deadline for this article about to whoosh by, I hit ‘publish’.

Bon appetit.


This tip is based on my 30 Tips in 40 Minutes webinar.

Feel free to download a version of the slides and watch a video of the one-hour webinar.

Image source: Pixabay


For my Monday Max: the latest articles and news about SEO, copywriting, communications, marketing, psychology and more. In your inbox every Monday at 8am.

Jon Maxim

Jon is a multi-award winning copywriter. For over 30 years, he’s helped clients – large and small – develop engaging concepts, content and copy. For 25 of those years, he’s been teaching people how to do it themselves. His courses on copywriting, ideation and presentation skills are highly sought-after and highly effective. Jon lives in Sydney, Australia: but is often found on a plane, heading to where he’s most needed.