Here we are in the middle of September, so according to my schedule for The Book, all 20 trails have been completed on sunny summer’s days and I’m now close to the proofing bit.

Hmmm. Or maybe nine in a row were completed on sunny summer’s days then the summer stopped. In July. The next six were interesting affairs (try taking notes and photos, whilst walking, in the finest Welsh drizzle). And the other five… well let’s just say I haven’t put my walking boots away just yet.

But it’s fine and I’m not at all stressed. I didn’t start panicking when one of the seven local authorities which initially said I could include some of its routes changed its collective mind, or when I discovered major maintenance is due to start on another trail next year – roughly at publication time. I’m not at all stressed because I’ve discovered that my publisher has a surprisingly laid back approach to deadlines.

Writers like to pretend that deadlines are a bad thing, especially when our news editor is yelling that she needs 400 words and a box-out within 20 minutes or she’s going to put us in a sandwich and eat us for lunch. Even the word ‘deadlines’ sounds nose-wrinklingly unpleasant. But here’s the big secret. Deadlines are good. They make us Get Things Done.

My deadline for The Book was the end of October (or ‘before my Hallowe’en party’, as my five-year-old keeps reminding me). So I was going to forego sleep in September and officially kick off the panicking on October 1. Then I got an email from my publisher saying that ‘anytime’ before the end of the year is ok and I won’t be eaten after all.

So of course I’m still going to write 40,000 words to the initial deadline, possibly giving myself a teeny bit of leeway into the second week of November to finalise maps, picture captions and credits. I’m absolutely not going to leave the remaining five trails until it’s snowing, play on Facebook and spend Christmas Eve writing Chapter 20. Because a deadline’s still a deadline, isn’t it?