The Importance of Deadlines

I don’t know about you, but I love deadlines. In theory.  Sometimes, they’re downright magical things.

Sometimes they’re the only reason why things get done. Homework. Readings. Writings. Craft projects. Celebrations. There’s nothing quite like a deadline to inspire a massive swath of productivity.
Since it’s November, and since we’ve officially crossed the starting line for NaNoWriMo, I can’t help but think about deadlines. And not just because I missed the one to get this post up in time.

I don’t know how many of my blog followers also follow The Word Wood, but while I’ve been crazy busy uprooting my life since midsummer, I’ve been massively productive editing my heart out, all thanks to the power of deadlines. And yet, for each of the four I had for this semester in my writing program, I missed all of them.

Every. Single. One.

Even my last deadline—which was technically really, really due yesterday—I’m still short about 12-13 pages. And yet, this last semester, despite all the insanity, all the heartache and stress, I had one of my most productive semesters ever.

See, I don't know about you, but I'm horrifically avoidant in just about all things, especially writing.  And I know me; I know if I don't tie the knot on my noose tight enough, I'll find a way to slip out of it. Sometimes I'm just too crafty for my own good. So for this last term of my MFA work I deliberately tied the rope tight and bumped up my minimal 80 semester contract to 240 edited pages.

I've been suffocating ever since.

While I both fear and dread the deadline here and now, and even though I'm past my last, and still short my last requisite 12 pages, I can look back at all of the results for my struggles this semester and find 228 of them in my most up to date word doc.

And that does feel pretty damn amazing.

So even though Denise Ganley here calls me one of the best binge writers she knows and even though the stress of it almost never fun, but as exhausting as it is, at least things get done. 

Maybe this is why I’ve never gotten further than halfway through NaNoWriMo, though. Dashing for 30 days in a row is too soul-crushing with my schedule.

How do you find deadlines? Helpful or horrible? And I'm curious, how do they impact your view of NaNoWriMo? Or are all of you out there are doing it this year?


  1. Deadlines set by others are helpful to me. I seem to ignore the ones I set for myself. Which is why I signed up for writing classes...those deadlines help and have been critical. I did NaNo once and the desire to win helped immensely the first time, and I won. Now that same pressure doesn't exist. I do meet weekly-ish with a writers group and I can only go so long without submitting material.

    1. I've yet to win NaNo. Maybe I'll try it next year, after some massive planning for my sequel. But I'm the same as you. Something other than me has to be greatly affected by my not following through. Even then, sometimes it doesn't work. I swear I'll break this habit one of these days....


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