Deadlines provide the memoirist with great incentives to complete their books. Without deadlines, you easily can muddle along producing only small amounts of your manuscript and possibly never finishing it. You also may continue writing, editing, revising or tinkering with your memoir, never deeming it “finished.”

I both love and hate deadlines. I love that they force me to write. I’m a perfectionist, and deadlines make me quit revising and submit my work. This allows me to move on to the next project. Thus, deadlines make me a productive writer. I hate them because they loom over my head causing me stress.

Although deadlines may not feel positive to you, having one actually can constitute a gift. I often suggest giving yourself a self-imposed writing deadline so you receive what you desire—a finished memoir. Each month have a deadline of finishing some aspect or part of your memoir. Maybe you write two chapters, for example. You can choose to have a deadline a week rather than a deadline per month, or you can chunk it down further to a daily deadline, such as writing 500 words. This will keep you moving forward towards getting your memoir written quickly.

In November you have the benefit of taking on an imposed deadline. You can join nonfiction writers all over the world by participating in Write Nonfiction in November  and start and finish your memoir in 30 days. (Okay, maybe you just want to finish a chapter or two, but it is possible to actually write a book in 30 days.) In 2007, I started Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) as a challenge to all those not wanting to write fiction during November to start and complete a nonfiction project in 30 days. (The prior year I had participated in National Novel Writing Month.) Not a contest but rather a challenge, WNFIN does not require an exact word count, just a completed project of some sort—an article, a book, an ebook, a book proposal, a query letter, an essay, etc. This remains a personal challenge; no one will check if you have really finished—but you will know if you completed the task. While you write you also learn; a blog offers 30 days of posts from approximately 20 authors and writing and publishing experts about writing, publishing and promoting nonfiction writing. (You can sign in here: http://writenonfictioninnovember.com/wnfin-2011-participants/. You can also chat with participants on this Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Write-Nonfiction-in-November/157481860957111 .)

Whether you choose to participate in WNFIN or not, here are six tips for using writing deadlines to help you write your memoir quickly:

  1. Chunk tasks down so you have smaller deadlines within your larger deadline.
  2. Use a calendar to keep track of your progress.
  3. Figure out how many words, pages, or chapters you must write each day or week to meet your goal.