Friday, 20 January 2012

Writing More: Self-Imposed Deadlines

I recently discovered that when I'm forced to meet a deadline, I can write an enormous amount of words in a week. I've been thinking of how to motivate myself to write more and whether self-imposed (as opposed to MA course) deadlines could help. Since I tend to work well under pressure, I decided it's worth a try.

However, the deadlines I write in my diary/planner usually come and go without having been met. It seems I don't take them seriously because they are self-imposed, which is one of many examples of self-sabotage in my life! Needless to say, the power of motivation asserted by these deadlines is rather weak.

A compromise that has worked well for me in the past is to force myself to enter competitions. The problem is that even modest entry fees add up and I feel like I'm throwing away my money. Even free competitions seem a waste of time and/or postage. I believe I stand no chance of being placed in the competitions, no matter how small and niche, and the free ones tend to be organised by national publications with large readerships so attract more entrants anyway. The best I can do is persuade myself that entering is a way of donating money to the horribly-underfunded arts. Confidence is a huge issue for me...

New way of thinking: entering competitions forces/motivates me to write, so the entry fee pays for a finished short story. Investing a few pounds in writing makes fiscal sense - it's the same logic that persuaded me to do a Creative Writing MA, using my overdraft, savings and credit card to fund it. Only that was a few thousand pounds.

My theory: working on my craft will improve it and therefore improve my chances of earning a living from writing, one day. Competition deadlines are 'serious' enough to motivate me (if I miss one, that's an opportunity missed), but can be missed if I have too much MA work to do.

Action: there are several competitions with deadlines at the end of March, so I aim to write at least 3 decent stories to enter in some of them. One of my New Year's resolutions is to be more adventurous in my writing, so this is also an opportunity to push myself beyond my comfort zone.

Result: remains to be discovered.... Keep reading!


  1. I went this route when I first started writing seriously too - submitting to fee contests. Who is to say it can't happen that you would win. Someone has to :)

    Later I started submitting to online blogfests/contests as I started getting more involved in blogosphere (some bloggers hate that term). I feel guilty when I let a fellow blogger down, or sign up on a linky and never post. To me, that serves the same purpose as the $20 contest entry fee :)

    Not the same feeling if you were to win a national contest though.


  2. True! I can only give it a go and find out... That's a semi-positive attitude: I'm improving!