All month you’ve been marking the days off on the calendar, and since last night or early this morning you’ve been watching the clock knowing your deadline was fast approaching. The Write Nonfiction in November challenge was coming to an end. Indeed, at midnight tonight, you must make the last changes to your WNFiN project for 2009, and say, “Finished.” You must complete your project and meet your deadline.
In fact, unlike National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), to participate in WNFiN you don’t actually have to turn your project in for a word count. Nor will I be checking to see if you have actually submitted it. No editor, agent or publisher is waiting to find it in their email in-box by midnight either. The WNFiN deadline represents a self-imposed one. Yet, it’s a useful one all the same.
Deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, provide writers with great incentives to complete their work. Without deadlines, it’s easy to simply muddle along producing only a little bit of writing here and there but never finishing a project. Without a deadline, you also could continue writing, editing or generally fiddling with your project forever, never getting it to a point where you deem it “finished.”
As a journalist, I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I dread them as they approach, but they force me to get my work done. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and deadlines make me stop and turn my work in. They allow me to go on to the next project, even if I think I could continue working on the last one and improve upon it. They make me a productive writer.
When it comes to my own books, articles and essays, if I’m not feeling inspired to write, a self-imposed deadline helps. If I attach it to something that feels more concrete — like having to tell my writers’ group if I met my goal in terms of time line — I tend to follow through more often. Thus, if you, like me, work alone and don’t have an editor or publisher actually waiting for your work, having an “accountability partner” helps gives you the incentive to meet your self-imposed deadlines.
So, while deadlines may not feel like positive things, they actually constitute gifts. Therefore, I’d like to encourage you to give yourself the gift this holiday season — and all year long — of self-imposed writing deadlines. I suggest that each month you have a goal of finishing some writing project or at least some phase of a writing project. Maybe you complete one section of your book proposals, write two chapters of your book, finish three interviews for an article, or write the first draft for an e-book. You also can have a deadline a week rather than a deadline each month, or you can chunk it down further to a daily deadline, such as writing 500 words or one blog post per day. This will keep you moving towards your writing goals without the need for the WNFiN challenge or any other contest.
Here are a few tips for working with writing deadlines:
- Chunk tasks down so you have smaller deadlines within your larger deadline.
- Use a calendar to keep track of your progress.
- If you have a word count to meet, figure out how many words you must write per day.
- Set up interviews early in the deadline period; email or call interviewees and let them know specifically your deadline–then give them their deadline, so they know that if they don’t meet their deadline they affect your deadline.
- Finish your piece of writing at least two days prior to the deadline to allow time to edit; this gives you ample time to get “distance” from the piece for a few hours or a day between editing phases. It also allows time to get additional or missing information for articles.
- Re-evaluate your progress half way through the deadline period, so you can make adjustments to how you are handling the project. Assess if you must speed up your work schedule.
- As soon as you compete one deadline, begin work on the next. If you have more than one writing deadline at any given time, divvy up your day to work on each project for a certain number or hours per day. Evaluate where you are on each project at the end of each day to assess if you are moving towards each deadline at an appropriate speed. You might need to table one project for a day to catch up on another. You also can work on one project per day, if you find that easier.
- If you get behind, take a day (or a weekend) to catch up.
- Try, if possible to get ahead and finish early. This allows you to turn in work early to editors (who really appreciate this).
- Don’t ever miss a publication deadline (at least not if you want to write for that publication again).
Whatever type of deadline you choose to use, don’t let the end of November slow your writing pace. That’s the point of this post. Now that you’ve geared up, don’t shift into a lower gear. Use deadlines to help you accomplish your writing goals.
I know December can prove busy with holiday shopping and parties and too much egg nog, but give yourself some deadlines anyway…or at least one. And then give your self other deadlines for the New Year. If you didn’t finish your WNFiN project, give yourself a deadline for doing so. It’s easy to have December 1 show up and just walk away from your WNFiN project and never look back–never edit it, never send it out to an editor or publisher, or never start a new nonfiction writing project. Don’t let that happen. Pick a new nonfiction writing project today and give yourself another deadline. (How about December 31st?)
I hope you’ve enjoyed using Write Nonfiction in November as a writing challenge and found the blog posts inspiring and educational. Please let me know what you enjoyed most or found most useful and what you would like to read more of next year. To do so, leave a comment here, join the social networking/chat site and comment there or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you did find the blog series informational and useful, please help other nonfiction writers discover it by voting WNFiN one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Internet Sites for Writers. You can do so by clicking here and following the instructions.
Also, don’t forget that you can still sign up for my free newsletter at www.copywrightcommunications.com today and receive a free gift, which will arrive in about a week…I’m still creating it specially for you!
To all my guest bloggers, readers and challenge takers, thanks so much for being a part of WNFiN 2009! Check back here each month for more great blog posts! The challenge ends today, but the blog continues all year long.
Good luck with all your nonfiction writing endeavors.
About the Author
Nina Amir is a seasoned journalist, nonfiction editor, author, consultant, and writing coach with more than 30 years of experience in the publishing field. She has edited or written for 45+ local, national and international magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and newsletters on a full-time or freelance basis. Her essays have been published in five anthologies and can be found in numerous e-zines and Internet article directories. An award-winning journalist, she also has a proven track record as a book editor; one of her client’s books was self-published and then purchased and re-released verbatim by Simon & Schuster (Fireside) and another won the 1998 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award (Inspirational category), received a contract from William Morrow but remained self-published and went on to sell over 115,000 copies. Another of her client’s books recently was purchased by O-Books, a fast-growing British publisher.
Nina also is an inspirational speaker, spiritual and conscious creation coach, teacher, and the regular holiday and spirituality expert on Conversations with Mrs. Claus, a weekly podcast heard in more than 90 countries and downloaded by 110,000 listeners per month (www.thefamilyyak.com). Through her writing and speaking, Amir offers human potential, personal growth and practical spiritual tools from a Jewish perspective, although her work spans religious lines and is pertinent to people of all faiths and spiritual traditions.
Additionally, Amir has written and self-published several booklets and workbooks, including:
- Using the Internet to Build Your Platform One Article at a Time, 8 Tips for Getting Publicity, Exposure and Expert Status by Providing Free Copy Online
- The Priestess Practice: 4 Steps to Creating Sacred Space and Inviting the Divine to Dwell Within It
- The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation: How to Mystically Manifesting Your Physical and Spiritual Desires
- From Empty Practice to Meaning-Full and Spirit-Full Prayers and Rituals…in Seven Simple Steps
- Navigating the Narrow Bridge: 7 Steps for Moving Forward Courageously Even When Life Seems Most Precarious
Currently Amir is writing four books; she also compiled a Jewish celebrity cookbook for which she is seeking a publisher.
To learn how to use the Internet to build your platform one article at a time, why every author needs a platform or how to enhance your expert status by posting articles online, go to:
Help writers find the wonderful information and resources at Write Nonfiction in November all year:
Vote WNFIN One of Writer’s Digest’s Annual 101 Best Internet Sites for Writers