The likelihood of achieving a goal without a deadline is pretty slim. We can continuously punt tasks lacking a due date down the field, and before we know it we’ll have pushed certain goals into the next year. To ensure you reach your writing goals, it’s important to set both small and large deadlines for yourself. Small goal achievements help you feel like you’re making progress, and that deadline to have your book completely written will give you a date on the calendar to work toward.

We all work at our own pace. This month, thousands of people will participate in NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month, and will commit to producing their first draft in just 30 days. Maybe six months or one year feels more comfortable for you. And maybe you’ll need more than one year to complete your first draft. However long you decide to take, setting a reasonable deadline that fits your schedule without stressing you out is where the magic happens.

Here are five reasons why you need a writing deadline:

1. It creates an end goal to reach.

By giving yourself an end goal, you make your writing top of mind. Add your looming due date to your calendar and set reminders during the week to research or write.

2. It helps set expectations.

Not everyone has the ability, time, or energy to write the first draft in 30 days. Setting a realistic deadline helps you keep your personal expectations in check. Stretching yourself to cram writing into every free nook and cranny in your schedule could lead to unnecessary stress and undetectable burnout. So, be honest about what you can complete in a specific time frame.

3. It allows you to set smaller goals.

By setting a final completion date for your first draft, you’ll be able to work backward from that date and set smaller, attainable goals for yourself. If you set a deadline six months from today and a word count you want to achieve by that date, you’ll be able to break down that total word count into how many words you need to write each month, and each week, in order to meet your goal. These smaller goals won’t feel as overwhelming.

4. It keeps you on task.

The great thing about a deadline is it keeps your priorities in check. Your looming deadline may help you decide to sit down and write for two hours instead of turning on the TV for that same period of time.

5. You know when the end is in sight.

The best thing about a deadline is you’ll always have the end in sight. You won’t be wondering when you’ll finish writing your novel, it’ll be a date clearly marked on your calendar.

Do you set writing deadlines for yourself? Can you notice a difference in the projects you set deadlines for the ones you don’t?

Need help with organizing your writing time? Peruse our other blog posts for more tips!