Do you have challenges when meeting deadlines? Many writers and authors do. When we send out questionnaires for Team Up, “meeting deadlines” is always a one of the biggest problems that students identify.
Luckily, you can fix this when you have writing processes in place.
Meeting deadlines: be patient with yourself
Meeting deadlines starts with building habits.
A digression: if you’re in the first couple of years of a writing career, relax. You’re learning. Among many other things, you’re learning:
- How you prefer to work;
- What’s involved in projects (everything always takes longer than you think);
- How to get along with people — clients, editors, contractors like graphic designers, etc…
Be patient with yourself always, but especially when you’re learning something new, and when you’re making the switch from one kind of writing to another.
Switching from nonfiction to fiction, and back again, is especially challenging.
OK, end digression.
Let’s look at the tips.
1. Walk the course: identify what’s involved in a project
Back in my riding days, competitors “walked the course” before the start of an event. You walked it to identify challenges you and your horse were likely to discover, and to get clear on the timing.
Similarly, when you accept a gig from a client, or you create a project for yourself (you want to write a novel) you need to walk the course. You need to identify challenges, and work out how long everything will take.
Start by describing the project clearly to yourself, in writing:
This client wants new content for the home page of his website, emphasizing that the company uses sustainable, plantation-grown timber, sourced locally, yada, yada…
Send your project summary to the client (even if he’s already sent you a brief), to be sure that you and the client are on the same page. It’s horribly EASY to misread, or misunderstand a brief.
I once misread a brief. I assumed it was for three pages of a furniture catalogue… It was 33 pages. Since I was at fault, and it was a rush project, I spent an entire weekend crafting copy, and didn’t charge the client a cent extra. (He was a great and very profitable client for me, so the goodwill was worth it.)
Please write a clear description of a project even if it’s a personal project. If you’re writing a book, write the blurb NOW.
Be sure to make a list of additional work you need to do:
- Source images;
Once you’ve made a list, make a note of the time each item will take, and decide which, if any, tasks are chargeable as extras. Add the “extras” to your invoice.
2. Write first, research later, it saves time
Most projects (even fiction) need research.
Try to draft as much of the writing as you can, before you start your research. While you’re writing the draft, list the questions to which you want answers. Research can be an endless time sink if you don’t make a list of questions, and decide how much time you’ll spend on it.
The benefit of doing some of the writing first is that you save time.
3. Get organized: write clean (if you can, it may not be possible for a year or two)
I try to write “clean.” That is, even in a first draft, I write in full sentences, and I edit the same day. If I’m writing a novel for example, and need to include something or other in an earlier chapter, I’ll add it on the same day.
Be aware that this writing workflow may not work for you. If you find yourself dithering and procrastinating, edit later, once you’ve completed the project.
Remember that meeting deadlines is your goal. Build habits to make it easier.
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