Many of us are used to deadlines. They make sense, right? Someone needs us to complete something, so they tell us when they need it to be done, and we do it.
It helps us plan our approach to completing it, and it helps them plan for its completion and hold us to account.
But what we don’t often think about is how we can benefit by setting deadlines for ourselves.
See, when it comes to something we’re doing on our own—writing a novel, for example—the temptation is to think that we’ve got it totally under control.
I’ll get it done, we tend to think, because it’s MY own project! What, you think I’m not gonna do the work and leave myself high and dry?
Uh…I hate to break this to you, but yes.
Yes, indeed. That’s exactly what could happen. It happens all the time!
When you’re a writer, you’re both the boss and the employee, and being too lax with yourself rarely works out.
So here are 3 solid reasons to give yourself deadlines—both for getting started and for each phase of your novel-writing effort:
1. It’s a lot better than “someday.” The word “someday” is vague. When you tell yourself (and others) that you’re going to write a novel “someday,” then someday is when that novel gets written—which is to say, probably never 😦 Despite our best intentions, “someday” always feels like a future date, and almost never becomes the here and now.
The solution? Pin down an exact date for when you will complete a writing task—and hold yourself to it.
2. It’s like a road map to your sunny paradise. You know just where you want to be: among those who have published terrific novels! So work backwards from the destination. What would you like to get done, and when would you like to finish it?
Dates that are further off in the future will be a little fuzzier, of course, but once you get to planning out your immediate goals—such as writing your first chapter—you can 100% give yourself a firm date.
3. It makes you hyper-productive. When you go beyond telling people you’re planning to write a novel, and proceed to tell them the exact date they can expect your first chapter, or your first completed draft, or your published book, it puts the pressure on you to actually do it.
Knowing that your friends and colleagues are expecting to see something from you, you’re probably going to be much more likely to follow through. They’ll also be impressed by your get-up-and-go!
Plus, with a deadline in mind, you know exactly what you need to do on a given day. This is much better than sitting there asking yourself, “Gee, what should I be doing today?”—and then getting sidetracked and achieving nothing.
As with any project, writing a novel is all about constantly moving forward. When you are making progress on a daily basis, it keeps the creative juices flowing, makes you more productive, and motivates you to power through and finish.
Want a ready-made deadline to give yourself?
I don’t know whether you said yes or no, so here it is anyway: October 1st-10th, all of us in the 10K Novel-Writing Challenge are going to be writing 1,000 words a day—10,000 words in all.
By October 10, you could have 10,000 new words written in your novel. That’s at least several chapters…and one heck of a headstart on your novel!
We’d love it if you joined us in the Challenge.
But even if you decide to crawl into your writing nook and not come out until your novel’s all finished, remember what’s at stake here, and be sure to set regular deadlines for yourself along the way.
You’ll be glad you did. Comments welcome!
I’m Timothy Pike, founder of ChapterBuzz and self-publishing coach specializing in helping you publish a beautiful book to the virtual shelves of Amazon—and the real shelves of your local bookstore.