Deadlines are my friends. While many people despise them, I’ve cozied up to deadlines since I began getting published in high school. They inspire and motivate me while keeping me focused and productive.
If you want to succeed as a writer, you need all those things—inspiration, motivation, focus, and productivity.
I know this because I’m a journalist, blogger, and author, as well as a Certified High Performance Coach. I also worked as an Author Coach for many years.
The most successful writers embrace—even love—deadlines. It pushes and stretches them to write quickly and effectively, and it helps them get their work out into the world.
So many writers I know or work with say deadlines only help them write if they are “real.” They define a real deadline as one set or imposed on you by an outside source, like an editor.
So, if you land a gig writing an article for a magazine and you have to turn in the manuscript by March 30th, that’s considered a real deadline because an editor gave you a “due date.” You have even signed a contract agreeing to turn in your work by that date.
Most people—not just writers—have an easier time keeping their commitments to others. They have integrity and don’t break their promises, especially to an editor who plans to pay them for their work.
If you think about it, the fact that externally created deadlines push you to meet them on time means they work for you. If that’s the case, deadlines are, indeed, your friends. Embrace them!
On the other hand, writers who say only real deadlines work for them claim “fake” deadlines don’t inspire, motivate, or focus them on the writing project at hand. Nor do they make them more productive. They define fake deadlines as those you impose on yourself.
For example, if you promise yourself you will write and publish a blog post once per week, that’s a deadline you created. However, since you set the due date, you don’t see it as a real deadline. Thus, it’s not firm. Instead, you perceive it to be flexible. Therefore, you will likely break that commitment if it seems difficult to keep.
It can feel much harder to have self-integrity and keep the promises you make to yourself—like sticking to the blogging schedule you created—than to keep your promises to an editor, agent, or publisher. But it is possible to keep your deadlines by becoming a person who is self-integral. That means changing your identity.
You can accomplish such an identity shift by deciding that is who you want to be. After that, you’ll find keeping your promises to yourself comes naturally. After all, you are someone who has self-integrity. If this sounds impossible, let me assure you it’s not. Members of the Inspired Creator Community make such identity decisions regularly, and their desired habits fall into place almost immediately.
Deadlines Don’t Help if You Lack Commitment
However, the problem lies not only in your degree of self-integrity but your level of commitment. When you are committed to a writing project, you write come hell or high water. When you lack commitment, you let anything and everything get in the way of working on that post, article, or book—and deadlines don’t help much.
And then, despite your lack of commitment, you promise yourself to write daily, blog three times per month, publish a book by the end of the year, or churn out 5,000 words per week. Then you wonder why you can’t keep those promises. The reason why is simple: you are not committed.
And here’s the rub: you lose self-esteem when you don’t keep your self-made commitments. For example, if you set a deadline and then don’t meet it, you’ll struggle to meet other deadlines you set later.
Meet those self-imposed deadlines, though, and your self-esteem will rise. That’s when meeting your deadlines becomes easy—and a strategy for success. In fact, at that point, you might befriend your deadlines.
Keep in mind that many other writers do meet so-called fake deadlines. However, they see them as real. And that’s why they churn out blog posts, articles, and books easily and quickly. You can do that, too, if you see all deadlines as real—and friendly.
Rise to the Challenge of a Deadline
Here’s the truth: The person you most need to have integrity with is yourself. If you develop a high level of self-integrity, it won’t matter who sets a deadline—you or someone else. You will meet it.
And if you are genuinely committed to your writing project, you will follow through…no matter what. You will find a way to write even when life tries to get in the way.
Every deadline serves as a challenge. To rise to the challenge, you must stretch and grow. You must complete and submit your written work on time—a blog post, article, essay, or book manuscript. It matters little who sets the deadline. What’s important is that you meet it.
Like a good friend, a deadline holds your hand, helps you get out of your way, and keeps you accountable so you finish what you start…and do so on time. And each time you meet a deadline, you grow, learn, become a better writer, and develop confidence. Then, the next time you or someone else gives you a writing deadline, you’ll embrace it like an old friend. You’ll feel inspired, motivated, and focused and write productively from the first word of the project to the last.
Before you know it, you’ll frequently want to invite deadlines over for a friendly writing date.
Are deadlines your friends? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a writing buddy.
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