Are You Setting an Artificial Deadline for Your Book?

I get it: you want to write a book and you don’t want it to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get it finished. And it’s oh-so-attractive to have an end date in mind that matches a birthday, anniversary, or flip on the calendar (seasonal or annual.) It seems like the perfect deadline for your book.

But is it?

While it may seem simple and attractive to give yourself a super tight deadline (maybe even two days that start with S and end with y) and think, “I’ll just get it done,” in your heart-of-hearts, you know that it isn’t enough time to write the message-driven book that you really want to write.

But without a deadline, you’ve already seen it happen: weeks, months, years roll by and you’ve never finished. Heck, you’ve never even made it out of the gate!

And then…

Another artificial deadline is created for your book.

It’s a vicious cycle.

So how do you create a deadline AND give yourself enough space?

1. Start at the Right Place

Sorry, Hemingway, writing a book is NOT sitting down at a typewriter and bleeding. You need to start the book-writing process at the right place: knowing your message. If you grab an arbitrary deadline, the temptation is just to sit down and write, write, write. But you’ve already TRIED that. And you and I both know it didn’t work.

Writing is NOT Step #1.

2. Remember Your Message

While a deadline CAN help you stay on track, and keep working consistently, if you’re too busy watching the date on the calendar loom closer and closer, you run the risk to shortchange your message, to cut corners with sharing your story, and get in a rush to just FINISH – even if the book isn’t complete.

Honoring your message allows you to let your book unfold organically.

Honoring your message allows you to let your book unfold organically. Click To Tweet

3. Keep Your Reader In Mind

A looming deadline can make your fingers fly over the keys – and it means you can rush. That’s where you’re doing them a disservice. You’re not giving the reader the opportunity to draw her own conclusions, to sit in your message and your story, to feel what you’re saying.

You want to deliver your material in baby bird bites – what is really understandable and digestible. Rushing can give your reader mental indigestion.

4. Make the Calendar Your Friend

I’m not saying NOT to make a deadline, but it needs to be a deadline that supports your writing and your life. Far enough away that you have a possibility of making it and soon enough that you don’t have a false sense of “I can do it tomorrow.” With my VIP Mentorship Clients, the calendar goal is to go from idea to first draft written in four months.

When your deadline is supported by your goals and schedule, you can push yourself a bit but not so much you give up.

5. Don’t Do It Alone!

Get support! Not just mentorship (but I think you should have that too) but you also need to have your family and friends support you too. They can walk the dog, bring you dinner, and call to check in on you. You want the support system to guard your time AND your message – no dream killers allowed!

Create a support system of people who will support your dream and help you be accountable to your goals.

The last thing I want to leave you with around deadlines is that we DO need to have a temporal container for our writing; if it’s nothing but open-ended we’ll never finish. And we also need to make sure that, like book length, we allow the creative process to unfold in the time that it needs.

Kim Galloway
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