Blake Atwood said, “Without a deadline, every word you write will feel like you’re building a bridge to nowhere.”
I have two clients I’ve promised to send 4 articles every month. At the first of the month, I decide what I’ll write each week. Otherwise, I can get distracted by a thousand unrelated things: doing research, posting on social media, thinking over ideas.
A deadline forces me to consider what’s important — and what isn’t.
Three Things a Deadline Does for Writers
If you’ve ever written for someone else, you know they promise their readers new material every week, every month, or even every day. To get ready, they need all the parts to be finished so they can be laid out and published.
What if you’re just writing for yourself? Do deadlines matter then?
Say you want to write a book. That is a big project.
You’ll make an outline.
You’ll write each chapter.
You’ll edit the manuscript.
You’ll design a book cover.
You’ll write a book description.
You’ll search for the right keywords.
You’ll promote it so it’ll sell.
If you don’t set deadlines, will you ever get it all done?
In this article, we’ll discover how having a deadline for everything you write makes you a better writer.
A Deadline Forces You to Dig Deep
I first learned about free writing from Peter Elbow’s book Writing With Power.
It’s simple to do.
1. Write down a word or phrase to guide you.
2. Set a timer for 10–15 minutes.
3. Write continuously until your time is up.
4. Don’t edit anything while the timer is running.
When you’re done, you’ll have something to edit.
Imagine being chased by a bear. You need to run as fast as you can to survive. Use that same energy level to fill the page with words.
Have you ever crammed for a test? What a study session that was, huh? I’ll bet you used some innovative techniques to absorb all that material fast. The impending threat forced you to dig deep into your brain for a way — any way — to ace that test.
Make your next draft a sprint. You’ll be surprised at what comes from an adrenaline rush.
Regular Deadlines Get You in the Writing Habit
Want to ramp up your production?
Set a deadline every week.
If you’re really daring, set one every day.
When you are consistently meeting deadlines, you’ll be forging the cords of a habit. Your production will be high. And over time, you’ll get better and better.
After a short time, you’ll write enough to fill a book.
Meeting a Deadline Gives You a Strong Sense of Accomplishment
When you’re busy, you probably use a to-do list.
How does it feel when you check off one item after another?
It feels awesome, doesn’t it?
When you get stuff done, you lift a weight off your shoulders. You push stress away. And you spend that energy beating deadlines instead of worrying about them.
Life is stressful. You can’t escape that. You can be proactive. You can make your dreams come true.
All you need is a deadline.
Do This Now
Write a blog post on whatever you’re passionate about. Set a deadline for tomorrow. After you do this a few times, you’ll look forward to it.
You’ll definitely get more writing done.
Plan three months out and you’ll have enough to write a book.
Share how it goes in the comments. And don’t forget to link to your article!
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This post originally appeared on Frank McKinley, Author.