The Power of Urgency

Newspaper reporters understand the power of the deadline as a motivator. They simply don’t have the time to procrastinate. They have to meet deadlines every day. My 15 years of experience as a newspaper reporter prepared me well for the rigors of NaNoWriMo.

It could not have come at a better time. I was lurching toward the finish of my work in progress–a novella about politics, rap music, and social media. I wasn’t feeling it. Compounding my lack of productivity, I started this blog in September and it was taking a lot of time–time I could have spend writing fiction.

So why take up the challenge of NaNoWriMo? First, I have always wanted to do it. Second, I had a killer idea (forgive the pun) for a murder/mystery. This story had been in my head for about ten years. Third, I needed to shake the doldrums.

I had no doubt I could do it. Then Mother Nature put up an obstacle. On October 30, Connecticut got slammed by the worst autumn snow storm in its history. We are now into Day 6 without power. I initially began writing by hand but that didn’t work for me. I’m too wedded to writing on the laptop. We are staying with friends now and I am able to write every day. My entry, tentatively entitled, “Bonus Baby,” now is at 2,800 words.

The lesson here: there is no way I would have put in the kind of effort I have over the past four days, especially given the weather challenges, without the presence of the November 30 deadline for completing the novel. That is the power of urgency.


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6 responses to “The Power of Urgency

  1. Day 6…ugh! I feel for you but kudos for keeping on task. We all can benefit from deadlines and some urgency.

    • Nancy,
      Thanks for your email. Our family is headed for Vermont for the weekend to stay with my sister in law and live like real 21st century people. I hope I can get a lot of writing done.

  2. Crank out that novella, Mr. Blake. Whatever motivates you is good. Whether that’s a snowstorm, a bake sale, or a whopping big advance check – who cares. If it gets words on the page, and the words flow together to form a story – I’m happy.

    Keep tapping away at those keys. May your motivation remain even after you’re snug back in your own home with the lights on, the furnace working, and a peacefully quiet evening at your disposal.

    • Jamie,
      Thanks for the encouraging words. We are in Vermont for the weekend, living like normal people. Power outage should last through the weekend. Day 7 with no power. I will definitely get back to the novella in December. Nanowriimo entry is at 5000 words today. I need to get to 10000 by the end of the weekend to stay on track. Thanks again.

  3. It’s amazing what we can do when he have to do it. Conversely, the “work” always seems to expand to the time allotted.

    There’s a trap I fell into, though, on my last novella, when writing it for my blog in record breaking time. I focused on pages and not the passion. The goal become more important than the process.

    However, one can write fast AND hold the passion. It’s just question of creating from the heart and not from the brain. We have the keep the process fun.

    But you know that.

    Best wishes for the writing race!


    • Irv,
      Thanks. I guess the trick is to be able to write fast and write well. But alas, you can’t rush perfection. I am finding this a fantastic experience. The forced discipline is keeping me on track. I’m up to 8,325 words.


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