Deadlines: When Motivation Runs Away


Original Image by Angela

As I mentioned in my last post, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this April. But, in true NaNoWriMo style, there was far more going on in the month than merely a writing challenge. My wrist had an attack of RSI, Easter arrived, and a certain adorable puppy joined the family. I could have just said ‘Enough is enough. I don’t have time for writing this month.’ I could have. But I didn’t. Why? Because I was on a deadline, and deadlines mean it’s time to knuckle down and get to work.

I have to confess, sometimes I don’t write. It’s not that I don’t love writing. It’s my passion. But sometimes I end up  making excuses as why I can’t do it. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I don’t have any inspiration. The motivation to sit down and write got up and left. Sometimes it’s easy to write and the words just pour out onto the page in perfect prose. And other times watching the grass grow in a drought seems like a better occupation. But then I discovered the writer’s secret weapon. The deadline.

When I have a deadline for a university assignment, I know that whatever else is happening, I have to get this piece of work finished by a certain date. I focus all my energy on getting that done in time. In the same way, setting a deadline for my writing gives me a date to have my goal finished by, whether it’s finishing a chapter, or getting through a round of edits.

NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo are my favourite ways to set myself a deadline, with their definite beginning and end and the added motivation of knowing that there are thousands of other writers working toward the same deadline as you. But that crazy, breakneck pace is not something I personally can keep up for an entire year. Honestly, I wouldn’t want the pressure either. But, by setting smaller goals throughout the other months, it’s easier for me to find the motivation to kick myself into writing gear.

If there’s one tool in my writing kit that helps more than anything, it’s the deadline. Something about it just screams ‘You must write. Sit down and write right now!’ And that’s just the kick I need to keep on doing what I love most, creating with the magic of words. Do you use deadlines to motivate yourself into writing? Did you do Camp NaNoWriMo this month? How did you do? What tricks do you use to keep yourself writing?

While I was writing this post, I came across an excellent blog post by Mooderino at Moody Writing on the very same subject which you should definitely check out if you’re interested in using deadlines for your writing.

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  1. Great post, I have found from the times that I have tried Nano and CampNano that I'm one of those strange people who react in completely the opposite way when given a deadline. I find myself totally demotivated and it becomes a real struggle to get anything written. I spent the first few months of this year just writing on my book without setting any real goals and even before I started Camp in April I had something like 35K but when I tried to push myself to do 25K just in April I just couldn't pull the words out of myself and I had to drop my goal to 15K.
    Maybe it's just me being weirdly oppositional :P

    1. Some people definitely don't seem to react well to deadlines. For me I like the challenge of trying to finish something by the same date, but I guess that would feel stressful and restrictive to other writers. There's certainly nothing long with taking longer to write. Whatever works for you is great!


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