Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deadlines: A Blessing or A Curse?

This sounded like the perfect topic to cover since I missed my usual deadline for posting on this blog. That's the way it is with deadlines though. If you can make your deadlines you're doing great but if you start missing deadlines, you quickly lose a sense of credibility - at least in your own mind.

Deadlines are a fundamental part of the freelance writer's life. I'm sure many of you already know that since you've been "living under the gun" for a while now. Once one project is completed you move on to the next one with its own stated deadline acting as the end of the race, the finish line you must cross in order to win.

A Blessing

If you're the sort of person that is naturally motivated to excel and you're particularly organized, then you may only reap the rewards of meeting deadlines. No matter if it is web content, blogging, writing articles for a newspaper or magazine, or even completing a manuscript for a book, you get it done. It is blessing to have everything in order so deadlines do not have to become a burden. When you meet one, you get this jolting feeling of accomplishment. It's the proverbial "pat on the back." "Well done, good and consistent writer. Here's your reward."

A Curse

On the other hand, if you've fall into the pattern of missed deadlines, your experience is decidedly different. You are weighed down by worry and stress. You may be anxious when the deadline comes and goes - and you're not finished. It is worse because it isn't the first time. You've been blowing deadlines for the last several months. Somehow, you've skated by and gotten paid. It may be because a client is understanding.  More likely, the client simply needs the content and will put up with you to get the content they need.

The problem comes in when you want feedback or future work. You've lost them as clients. They have given you a low ranking. (This is especially applicable with those of you working on networks like Elance where feedback can be scored according to performance.) You may be the biggest contributor to getting you on a client's blacklist.

What Can You Do?

Now, this question is simple to answer, but harder to implement. (I know this because, I still struggle to get things right.) The only remedy for a missed deadline is to not do it again. Let me say it again: Don't miss any more of your deadlines, writers. Write until your hand cramps up if you have to, but keep working and get it done on time, every time.

This takes a degree of discipline that some of you may be struggling to  maintain. It also requires you to remain organized so every project can be completed on a steady schedule. It is still doable. The only question left to ask yourself is whether you're ready to make the change and put in the effort necessary to make each deadline from here forward. You'll be a better writer for it. Your clients will stick around and give you more work, and you'll gain a reputation as both a quality and a professional writer.

All professional writers make their deadlines. They treat each task with the right amount of seriousness. They alert clients to any problems prior to the deadline if any adjustments in delivery date are necessary. Are you ready to reclaim your professional writer status or will you remain an amateur?

I look forward to any comments you may have. Let me know if there are any questions. Thanks for reading.

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