NaNoWriMo deadlines. Embrace the pace and get ‘er done.

To any writer who’s active online, November signifies NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. The aim being to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I too officially signed on for NaNoWriMo, though for me this November is National Finish the Novel You Started in January Month.


I know how my story ends. It’s just writing it.

And that seems to be harder than it sounds.

So I’ve committed to writing at least 1,000 words a day this month and more importantly to finish the first draft. This month.

(I know. I’ve written something similar many times.)

What’s different?

Recently, I read writer/consultant and online friend Jean Fisher’s post on how not to dread deadlines. She quoted Stan Toler’s five positive ways to think of deadlines.

Deadlines are friends. Property lines. Destination points. Managers. And voluntary.

When I first started writing for publications, I took deadlines as literal lines in the sand. You cross one late and your laptop drops off a sheer cliff into the Bering Sea. And no one hires you again. Ever.

As the years went by and life’s obligations kept increasing, my line in the sand attitude shifted to one where deadlines were more of a suggestion. A time frame. Until your editor sent a panicked email.

I wasn’t terribly late. At least not every time. 

Reading Jean and Stan’s thoughts made me again see that deadlines are good things. Goals to keep us on track to accomplish things before we find ourselves 89 years young.

So what am I doing differently?

Getting up at 4 a.m. on weekdays. I used to get up at 5:16 for coffee and quiet time. That’s when I decided if I got up an hour earlier, I’d still have my quiet time, then an hour to write.

With the house dark and quiet, I focus better and can usually get 500 words done by 6:00. Then it’s time to awaken the rest of the house.

Except the cats and dog who have been up with me since 4 a.m.

Members of my writing group — would be novelists like moi — are using NaNoWriMo the same way. To spur them on to finish their first drafts.

So here’s to deadlines.

May they keep us writing when:

We don’t want to get out of bed to turn the alarm off in the bathroom. But of course I have to get up and turn the alarm off before it wakes up my husband.

The real struggle is standing in the dark in the bathroom fighting every fiber of my being that wants to rush back to bed.

There is laundry that you could do later when the kids come home. Errands to the store that can be done after 1000 words. Bills can be paid after the daily word allotment done.

You stare at a blank page to start a transitional scene and it would be so much easier to start a load of laundry than suffer through a halting, stop and go, fretting that this isn’t any good 30 minutes.

A deadline for first draft means screw it being perfect. Start writing even when your muse is still asleep (the lucky sob). You’ll figure out something. It might be just the thing. It might not. Anything can be changed in revisions.

Above all — keep that story moving to cross the finish line.

By November 30.

Anyone else a fan of deadlines? No?



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12 responses to “NaNoWriMo deadlines. Embrace the pace and get ‘er done.”

  1. Tiffani Goff says:

    I’m so proud of you, You are so close! I want you to finish so I can read your novel which I know will be great.

  2. jani connelly says:

    You’ve got so much dedication!
    Can’t wait to read it.

  3. MizYank says:

    Go, Jamie, go! You can totally do this. I agree 100% with the “write anything” approach. I’ve started many a free write from a prompt that managed to evolve into something good. Every word you write brings you a step closer to that finish line.

  4. Jean Fischer says:

    Go, Jamie!!
    Love your post, and thanks for linking to mine.

    • Jamie Miles says:

      Thank you Jean. Your post on deadlines helped me focus on what is most important. Finishing the draft and making it a priority. A deadline of November 30 it is. The NaNoWriMo timing has been a bonus!

  5. Jack says:

    I typically don’t mind deadlines but this year I didn’t sign up for Nano.

    Got so many other distractions and the stories don’t seem to be burning up inside my belly.

    But that all could change in a second.

    Good luck with the writing and keep pushing, it is always worth it.

  6. It is so worth it to get up early to write even if all you do is think about it for an hour. I’ve never gotten up that early though. 5am has been the me time hour. Even with the time change though I can’t seem to get up before my official 5:45 alarm. I have been consistently waking up at 4:0 something maybe I should just stay up. Hmm.

    • Jamie Miles says:

      Well — it helps get things done before the day starts and other events take me off task. Though I do get tired and some mornings I’m not very productive because I’m just tired.



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