How to set a memoir writing deadline
As in most endeavors in life, when you write a memoir as an open-ended task without any end in sight, you are likely to procrastinate and extend the project. What happens when you do not set an end date is, next year or the year after that, you are still writing, revising, and polishing your lifestory. You know how it is: you want to get it right.
There’s a precept that states what gets dated, gets done—and it invariably gets done more quickly. It is eight o’clock in the evening as I polish this. (I wrote it this afternoon as part of an email to a coaching client who asked me for help in setting a deadline for his book.) I have just gotten back from a friend’s house. My short-term goal is to publish a post every day except for Sunday for a period of two weeks. Having told myself that I want this post in your mail box first thing in the morning, I have now showed up to the task because it is dated. What gets dated is more likely to get done.
Ok, I have a reason for my deadline. What might be good reasons for you to identify and honor a deadline by which you will write your memoir? Here are several suggestions for establishing an effective memoir writing deadline. Any deadline is a great stimulant, but it must also be something that is realistic and carries some meaning. It is not a tyrant; it is an aid.
A personal timeline
When you choose a deadline that is personally meaningful, you may have in intrinsic motivator. An example may be approaching your 50th birthday or your 60th. Perhaps you have long wanted to have manuscript by then. Here’s your chance to prove to yourself—and possibly the world—that you can do it. You have what it takes—and you are willing to do the work to get your manuscript done by then. “If I don’t do it now, I may never do it” you remind yourself.
An event that is looming
Perhaps there is a family reunion in the offing. Or, you might be going off to a class reunion or to a company conference, and you would like to have a book in hand to show. You’d more than “like”—it’s going to feel really bad if you don’t have the book you’ve been talking about.
Event deadlines are arbitrary, but they do serve you well. They can get you focused because other people are involved, other people who will not overlook that you do not have a manuscript in hand. “Mr. Big Shot, doesn’t have his book!” You don’t want your vanity to take a hit.
An income push
You may have as a goal to sell your book. It fits into a marketing strategy for some other product or service, or you want to use it for business development, a credential. Your memoir is part of a strategy and it is as such you are nurturing it. Without this book, your credibility is not solid and you income may suffer.
I have written elsewhere on schedules and time lines. Try the following to learn more about setting timelines:
- How Long Should It Take to Write a Memoir?
- A First Step to Becoming a Disciplined Writer
- Three Tips For Creating an Effective Writing Schedule
- Don’t Wait: Start to Write Your Memoir Today
- The Importance of a Regular Writing Practice
Remember that your memoir writing deadline is a tool to help you to write your memoir in a timely fashion. It is not a tyrant nor is it something that you ought to set aside lightly.
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- Which of the above reasons resonates with you? Choose a reason that will see you to the end—by a certain date. If you don’t see your reason here, please share with us in a comment below
- By when would you like to publish your memoir? Choose a date. Make it meaningful; make it a date that will bring you joy and satisfaction.
- Share this date with others so that you are committed to it.
- Break the timeline down by weeks and/or months. Make interim goals to use as benchmarks.
We have helped many people whose lives demanded to be recorded but who themselves were not writers to create interesting and well-written memoirs.
We listen to you speak your story. We ask you a multitude of questions. Then we get to work writing. We come back to you with text and you make lots of corrective comments and we ask you a whole lot of new questions. Then, we go back to writing again.
Over time, your story develops into a memoir—one that you have shaped at every stage of the writing process.
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