This came from one of my authors, tongue in cheek, when I asked how he was progressing on his current project. I’m compelled to quote his response and the citation.
“Among Chuang-tzu’s many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. “I need another five years,” said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.
“More on Chuang-tzu: Italo Calvino tells the story in ‘Quickness’, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium. And the story is probably originally from the Chuang Tzu text (or Zhuang-zi), which was compiled during the Tan Dynasty, 202BCE-220AD.”
Obviously, this is not my advice. The best way to make deadlines is to stick to your schedule. If you’re having problems, tell your agent and editor asap. It’s easier to write the perfect book one chapter at a time!