Guest Post By Nina Amir
Deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, provide writers with great incentives to complete their work. Without deadlines, it’s easy to simply muddle along producing only a little bit of writing here and there but never finishing a project. Without a deadline, you also could continue writing, editing or generally fiddling with your project forever, never getting it to a point where you deem it “finished.”
As a journalist, I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I dread them as they approach, but they force me to get my work done. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and deadlines make me stop and turn my work in. They allow me to go on to the next project, even if I think I could continue working on the last one and improve upon it. They make me a productive writer.
When it comes to my own books, articles and essays, if I’m not feeling inspired to write, a self-imposed deadline helps. If I attach it to something that feels more concrete — like having to tell my writers’ group if I met my goal in terms of time line — I tend to follow through more often. Thus, if you, like me, work alone and don’t have an editor or publisher actually waiting for your work, having an “accountability partner” helps gives you the incentive to meet your self-imposed deadlines. Many of my coaching clients pay me to serve as their accountability partner (among other things)!
While deadlines may not feel like positive things, they actually constitute gifts. So, give yourself the gift of a self-imposed writing deadline. Each month have a goal of finishing some writing project or at least some phase of a writing project. Maybe you complete one section of your book proposal, write two chapters of your book, finish three interviews for an article, or write the first draft for an e-book. You also can have a deadline a week rather than a deadline each month, or you can chunk it down further to a daily deadline, such as writing 500 words or one blog post per day. This will keep you moving towards your writing goals. (You can even blog a book by writing and publishing a post a day; you’ll be done in 6-12 months easily—if not sooner!)
This month you have the benefit of taking on two imposed deadlines: Fiction writers can participate in National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) and complete 50,000 words in 30 days; nonfiction writers can participate in the Write Nonfiction in November challenge (http://www.writenonfictioninnovember.com), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), and start and finish any nonfiction project in the same time period.
Without a challenge or contest to keep you going, here are a few tips for working with writing deadlines:
- Chunk tasks down so you have smaller deadlines within your larger deadline.
- Use a calendar to keep track of your progress.
- If you have a word count to meet, figure out how many words you must write per day.
- Set up interviews early in the deadline period; email or call interviewees and let them know specifically your deadline–then give them their deadline, so they know that if they don’t meet their deadline they affect your deadline.
- Finish your piece of writing at least two days prior to the deadline to allow time to edit; this gives you ample time to get “distance” from the piece for a few hours or a day between editing phases. It also allows time to get additional or missing information for articles.
- Re-evaluate your progress half way through the deadline period, so you can make adjustments to how you are handling the project. Assess if you must speed up your work schedule.
- As soon as you complete one deadline, begin work on the next. If you have more than one writing deadline at any given time, divvy up your day to work on each project for a certain number or hours per day. Evaluate where you are on each project at the end of each day to assess if you are moving towards each deadline at an appropriate speed. You might need to table one project for a day to catch up on another. You also can work on one project per day, if you find that easier.
- If you get behind, take a day (or a weekend) to catch up.
- Try, if possible to get ahead and finish early. This allows you to turn in work early to editors (who really appreciate this).
- Don’t ever miss a publication deadline (at least not if you want to write for that publication again).
Whatever type of deadline you choose to use, use it to help you accomplish your writing goals.
About the Author
Nina Amir, Inspiration to Creation Coach, inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose. The author of How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), Nina has also self-published 10 short books. A sought after editor, proposal consultant, book and author coach, and blog-to-book coach, Nina’s clients’ books have sold upwards of 230,000 copies and landed deals with top publishers. She is the founder of Write Nonfiction in November and writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction NOW!, How to Blog a Book, and As the Spirit Moves Me. Sign up for a free author, book or blog-to-book coaching session with Nina or receive her 5-Day Published Author Training Series by visiting www.copywrightcommunications.com. Find out more about Nina at www.ninaamir.com.
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