Why Writers Need a Sense of Urgency

This depends on your personality, but urgency psychology can be quite effectively used to move things forward. And, as a writer, having a distinct sense of urgency will only help you as you endeavor along your writing journey and author career.

Marketing and salespeople use it a lot to get you to agree to a deal. They are gifted at highlighting why quick action is needed and showing clients what they will lose if they don’t buy now.

Hurry! Act now! Only two left! Don’t delay!

When we feel a sense of urgency, we tend to suspend critical thought and act quickly. You know the feeling, when you are faced with a decision you need to make fast, and the rush you feel when you make a choice. It can feel quite thrilling.

When we feel we have time, we might let the over thinker take over. We hem and haw, and consider all the options, and eventually may choose not to act or put off the decision for so long that it becomes total inaction eventually anyway.

How would you use this to motivate yourself as a writer?


Enter yourself into some elite writing competitions, or apply for online writing work. Any work that is not available to everyone takes some effort to acquire and is therefore scarce. If you manage to land something like this, it certainly would create a sense of urgency to write your best.

Use a clock or timer to countdown

Put it somewhere visible and challenge yourself to see how much you can write in a specific amount of time. You can compete with your own highest score, or with others. MyWriteClub.com is an example of an online writing group which provides a connection with other writers to create a sense of urgency and competition.

Use loss aversion

What can you lose if you don’t conquer your writing goals. If you build something like this into your work, it can spur you to commit further. This can be an internal loss risk—like denying yourself certain rewards if you don’t carry through or complete—or external loss risk. Which in the writing world equates to a loss of income, not getting published or losing out on future writing jobs.

Brainwash yourself.

Tell yourself you are efficient, quick, and streamlined. You will find yourself wanting to live up to this fantastic image of self, even if you don’t always make it.

I find using urgency psychology definitely motivates me, but it has to be balanced. Too much pushing and forcing and I get resistant and rebellious, going straight into an “I won’t” toddler mode.

I use writing sprints with colleagues, where we all start at an agreed time and stop at the 30-minute mark. We continually push it to see if we can become the word count leader of the day, but it remains a supportive space, with everyone proud of their achievements and everyone sharing congratulations for every sprint completed.

I also have an app on my phone where I can log current projects. Apps like Wordly, WriteChain, 5,000 Words Per Hour, or WriteOMeter are plentiful, most of them are free and will help you track your words per hour, your target, and your progress toward it.

Also—by committing myself to paid writing work with deadlines, I create a continual sense of urgency and loss aversion within myself.

This blog post article has been an excerpt from my book How to Become a More Productive Writer.