What is Really Happening When You Have a Writing Deadline

Deadlines create a sense of impending doom that is motivating – it’s called fear. Our brain loves fear. It knows exactly what to do with fear. Take action or hide.

When I wake up with an external deadline looming that I am behind on I have a sinking feeling in my belly and, after I realize I cannot hide from the deadline, all I want to do is take action. This is why external deadlines work.

Specifically, deadlines work because they create the following:

  • Deadlines help us to ignore the thoughts that are coming up for us while we are writing and we write anyway.
  • Deadlines help us to ignore our desire to stay safe and comfortable. It’s easier to be uncomfortable for a while, knowing that the deadline is coming and the discomfort will end.
  • Deadlines create a compelling reason to complete the work that is acceptable to your brain.

Fear can certainly be an excellent motivator but it’s not any fun. It’s exhausting. It’s full of stress and anxiety that uses up a ton of your energy.

It seems like the answer is to just create deadlines for ourselves and stick to them. This is definitely a possibility and works for some. This is a lesson in self-commitment and integrity that can be extremely powerful. However, more often than not deadlines that we create for ourselves don’t work because we don’t believe it,  it feels contrived and when you know it’s not a real deadline, there’s no fear.

So the question becomes how do we create the effect of a deadline without a deadline and without fear? How do we manage our thoughts while writing, choose to be uncomfortable for a while  and create compelling reasons to complete the writing that we need to do?  

If you find you only end up writing under the pressure of a deadline and you want to learn to write with more ease and less anxiety ahead of time, your next step is to email me at support@melissaEanders.com for a complimentary discovery call where we will discuss what’s happening with you and whether the work that I do is a good fit for you.

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