What is it about looming deadlines that make us work harder?

This is my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I feel like I’m trying to complete a massive homework assignment in a very short period of time.  For those of you who don’t know, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words from November 1st to the 30th, getting your story out of your head and on paper, or on screen if you prefer typing, saving the editing and revisions for after your first draft is complete.

I decided to start a new project for NaNo as my current WIP is simply too large for me to accomplish in that short a time span, especially since I still have a lot of research to sift through.  My new project is more modern than my usual work, a YA novel centered on a young woman trying to protect herself and her young brother during an influenza epidemic. Much less research was involved in this project as I already have a medical background, although the research I did do was quite interesting, to say the least.  The story is also much shorter, due to its genre, so it is possible to have a complete novel by the end of NaNo, if I really push myself.

What surprises me the most is how quickly the story is flowing from my head to the screen.   NaNo encourages word count over quality, which goes against the grain for me.  My normal daily word count is only 300-500 words.  NaNo needs 1,667 a day to make the deadline.  That is no small feat.  The looming deadline may not encourage my best writing, but it certainly helps me to accomplish one of my goals.  Finish the story.  Since I tend to get bogged down with editing and revisions as I go, it is difficult for me to just get a story out.

I had most of the novel planned out before November 1st.  I know exactly where I want it to go.  With a lot of focused hard work, I should be able to write at least the 50,000 word minimum, possibly more.  I find the looming deadline strangely encouraging and I am interested to see how much I can accomplish with that encouragement.

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