Caitlin Moran is an English journalist and author who writes three columns per week and has published seven books — so far. Her columns and books have won multiple awards. She’s married, has two teenage children, and appears to post on Twitter 24/7. How the heck does she do all that?
Moran says, “I’ve never struggled to write — I’ve only had writer’s block for 20 minutes, once. Then I had a cup of tea, and it went away. Obviously I’d like to put this down to being the most brilliant and explosive mind of my generation – but I think it’s simply that I have always had a lot of deadlines. I started writing for cash at the age of 13, and ‘Bitch gotta make rent’ is the cure for any existential wobbles about how to express yourself. If you’re turning over a minimum of 10,000 words a week – this week, working on my new novel, I did 10,000 words IN TWO DAYS – then your conscious mind generally gets out of the way, and you plug straight into your unconscious, instead.”
Yikes, 5,000 words per day? I would say it couldn’t be done. Except, I’ve done it.
In my final week of writing the first edition of Get Clients Now!, I had 12,000 words left to write to meet my publisher’s manuscript deadline. “Okay,” I told myself, taking a deep breath, “I can do this. That’s only 1,700 words per day.”
Only I didn’t write 1,700 words per day. I wrote 1,200 words per day for 6 days, and on the 7th day — you guessed it — I banged out 5,000 words to meet the deadline.
If not for that deadline, I would never have written those 5,000 words. I wouldn’t have finished the book that month at all. In fact, I doubt I would have finished the book that year. But with the deadline looming, I made it happen.
So, how can you use the Deadline Principle if you don’t have a book contract and an impatient editor at the other end of the phone? Set up your own deadlines. Choose a date and time by which you want to have each writing project completed, then hold yourself accountable to get it done in time.
Not sure whether holding yourself accountable will be enough? Ask someone else to do it. Proclaim your deadline to a friend or colleague, or announce it in public, like on social media or your blog. Then ask your friend/colleague/readers to call you to account if you don’t make the deadline.
If that still doesn’t seem like enough to keep a fire burning under your keyboard, connect with a buddy writer who needs the same type of support. Then hold each other accountable to meeting your set deadlines. Or join a group of writers who serve that function for each other.
Deadlines help you write. Accountability helps you write. Writing buddies help you write. Allow the power of deadlines to help you get your stuff written.