The Pleasures of a Deadline

Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without a deadline.

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Last week, I was 5000 words behind where I should have been on my NaNoWriMo novel, which meant I had to write 15000 words in the last five days.

I finished with half a day to spare. In fact, my final day was an easy one, and I only had to write a few hundred words today.

So how did I do it? How did I go from so far behind to easily ahead? I could think of all kinds of abstract reasons, from having a better schedule this week to coming to an easier part of the book. But the real reason I finished on time was because I had a deadline.

It’s funny. National Novel Writing Month is completely arbitrary. Nobody really cares if you write 50 thousand words of fiction in November. You don’t gain anything by finishing and you don’t lose anything if you fail. Reporting is done on the honor system—no one knows for sure if you’ve done what you said you did. But something about having that silly deadline made me want to meet it.

I pushed myself at the end, and I had a couple of very long days. I could have pushed myself just as hard in the beginning of the month. Only I didn’t, because things weren’t urgent yet. Deadlines have a wonderful way of narrowing a writer’s focus, so the writing becomes the highest priority. That’s what I love about them. A deadline names one goal, and one goal only, and that kind of tunnel vision is great for creativity.

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In fact, I was wide awake most of last night, not because I was worried about the deadline but because I was excited about accomplishing my goal. I knew which chapter I wanted to work on and I was eager to get back to the keyboard. These last few days have been productive, happy ones for me, thanks to the pleasure of a deadline.

About the author: Alex Kourvo has recently switched from writing science fiction short stories and novels to writing romance. She wrote 50,000 words this month.

 

2 responses

    1. It’s my favorite mug! The words are lyrics from a song in The Greatest Showman. Have you seen that movie?

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