Deadlines can help or hinder your writing, but it’s your mindset that makes the difference. In fact, a supportive attitude will help you meet your goal every time and become a more effective writer in the process.
The reason is simple: mindset makes a difference. In fact, mindset may be the largest indicator of your ability to reach your writing goals. As I write this post, thousands of writers are trying to write a novel or complete a nonfiction project in a month. To do that, they need a supportive mindset.
The following four positive mindsets will help you meet just about any writing deadline.
Deadlines are You Friends
I often say, “Deadlines are my friends.” I have a degree in magazine journalism, but I learned early—in high school when I wrote for the local newspaper—that a deadline pushes me to complete a writing project. And it helps me do so more quickly and effectively than I might without a deadline.
Some writers find deadlines overwhelming. Many of my Author Coaching clients tell me deadlines cause them to come down with a bad case of writer’s block. For others, however, a deadline is just the push they need to excel.
I believe deadlines can be seen as challenges—no different from the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, for instance. And challenges can be fun and exciting because they help us step into our best writing selves. In fact, we have a human drive for challenge.
When you are challenged not only to complete a project but to do it by a specific date, urgency and necessity help you focus. That’s when you write effectively and up your level of productivity. So, change your mindset about deadlines and see them as your friends.
The Rule of 40%
The Navy seals have something they call the “Rule of 40%.” They believe that you’ve actually only given 40% of what is possible for you to give to the task at hand when you are ready to quit. That means that at that moment, when you believe you’ve run out of gas, your tank is still 60% full.
Apply that to your writing project. When you feel as if you’re too tired to continue writing, remind yourself that you’ve got 60% still available to help you reach “The End.” You’ve got more energy, focus, ideas, and skill left to meet your writing goal.
Remember the Rule of 40% when you are tempted to quit writing before meeting your deadline or completing a challenge. It will help you dig within to find the strength to continue.
Focus on the 20%
When you have a deadline looming, it’s easy to focus on what isn’t working or what you have not done. Doing so will only discourage you, though. Instead, focus on what is working and what you have accomplished.
Put the Pareto Principle to use. The Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes more often than not. Often called the 80/20 Rule, the basic idea is that if you focus on the 20% that is working, you will have a higher degree of success.
So, when you are trying to meet a writing deadline, hone in on the actions that achieve positive results. If you are getting up four days per week and writing for an hour, and you find yourself productive in that time, then do more of that! Increase the amount of time or the number of days you write.
And definitely don’t focus on the fact that you’ve only written 20,000 words and you need 30,000 more to complete your book manuscript. Focus on writing the remaining portion.
What helped you write the first 20,000 words? That’s the 20% you need to replicate—and increase.
Anything is Possible
The worst thing you can do when trying to meet a deadline is to allow yourself to focus on your belief that you cannot achieve your goal. Too often, we start strong and, as the deadline approaches, we peter out because our minds say, “You can’t do it.” Or it says, “It’s okay if you don’t finish on time,” “You never meet writing deadlines, so why bother this time?” or “You’ll never meet the challenge, so why continue trying?”
These thoughts cause you to give up. Even if your history has proven some of them right, your future does not need to do so. You can choose your thoughts, so choose ones that serve you.
Decide that anything is 100% possible 100% of the time. If you believe that, you can do anything you set your mind to doing. That means you can meet a writing deadline. You can even write a nonfiction book in 30 days.
If your negative chatter gets loud, repeat “anything is possible” repeatedly. Then sit down and write!
Deadlines are an Opportunity to Level Up
Don’t wait to change your mindset. Develop the “write mindset” before taking on a challenge or finding yourself struggling to meet a deadline. That way, you’ll be ready.
Give these four mindsets a try:
- Deadlines are my friend
- The 40% Rule
- Focus on the 20%
- Anything is possible
See a deadline—even a challenge to write a book in 30 days—as an opportunity to perform at your highest level. Accomplish your goals with a mindset that helps you succeed no matter what the writing project or in what amount of time.
Do you have a mindset strategy that helps you meet your writing deadlines? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with other nonfiction writers.
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Photo courtesy of Jack Moreh