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Writing To A Tight Deadline

clockWhew! I’d forgotten, almost, what it’s like to be on a tight deadline.

I’d agreed to complete three projects – one had a 48 hour turn around and the other two needed to be done  four days after that. Each was about 25 pages of copy, single spaced but with lots of white space. I wrote some 24,000 words give or take in a hurry.

And yes, I charged way more than usual for the rush job.

Of course, this is one of those projects I hadn’t planned on. I said yes knowing I’d have to put other stuff, on hold for the duration. Fortunately I was in a position to do so.

Decide what’s important

So I triaged, as it were. First, I decided I wouldn’t write as many blog entries as I normally do in a week. They don’t always take much time, but they do require their own focus and I wanted to use that early morning energy for the project instead.

Next I simply delayed two other projects by a week. Since both of those have squishy deadlines of their own it wasn’t a problem. I also canceled a badly needed hair cut. I ate out twice, no, three times – something rarely do, but by the end of the day cooking anything seemed impossible.

I did remember to move away from my computer and stand and stretch every couple of hours thanks to my cat, MzTiz and Workrave (which someone here recommended and I’m still not sure I like, but it worked). MzTiz contributed by insisting I let her out or in, and that I make sure she can never see the bottom of her food bowl.



Charge extra for the rush

Why did I accept a project requiring such push? Why do you think? Cash! As I mentioned, I charged about 30 percent more than I usually get because of the rush nature of the job. They didn’t like the increase, but they knew I could get the job done and they needed it so they agreed.

It also was the sort of writing I know pretty well. That meant almost no research and just a bit of fact checking. In other words,  the actual writing was s fairly easy – it was the short timeline that made it intense.

My approach is the same – a rough draft followed by serious rewriting and editing. I just sped things up.

One of the advantages of being an experienced writer is we know how to do things like write reasonably well in a hurry when we have to. Of course, we learned this on the job, so to speak. I can remember when, back in the early days of my career, I wouldn’t have been able to meet those deadlines with aplomb.

Becoming a true pro takes time and practice.

I’m grateful for the work and grateful its completed – oh the contract calls for one revision, but that shouldn’t be a problem.




Now I’m getting back to my normal pace – which is pretty easy actually.

What kind of a pace do you maintain? What do you do when the deadline is tight?

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu



{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Hannah

    I haven’t done anything yet with a real deadline but I’m sure if my book is published there will be changes which will have some. I graduated college in 2005 and left grad school recently to write, and homework deadlines helped me to get stuff done. To try and recapture that feeling, I set time limits on myself like “I’ll get this done by such and such a time,” or “I’ll finish this much today.” Since I work full-time, I often write or edit on my lunch hour, which also forces me to get something done because I have a time limit.

    That’s all I have. I don’t know if that will interest/help anyone.

  • Writing groups can be a blessing. I use them as deadlines as well and it works great. Like any time you need to show something you’ve written (or show anything to prove that you’ve WRITTEN something) to other people.
    .-= Jane´s last blog ..Planning for the future and Links =-.

  • One of the reasons I left Corporate America a year ago was to get control of my life. I spent 30+ years of working long hours, weekends and everything in between. My health and psyche was headed south.

    That is why my fingers now trip over themselves to exit an ad that reads “must be able to meet tight deadlines.” 🙂 Since I started freelancing, I have only accepted one such position. They e-mailed me on a Friday at 3:30 PM for 3 articles with extensive technical research and a deadline of the following Monday. That was in June. I just received payment last week.

    I totally understand needing the money–just take a look at the journey captured on my personal blog–but it just isn’t worth it to me any more. I admire those who can do it and hope they still find time for life. That was my lesson learned. I may take one of those tight timeframes in the future but the good news is no one makes that decision for me, except me.

    Continued success to all!
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month =-.

    • Anne

      Hi Cathy, yes, I rarely take a tight deadline anymore… in addition to money I was also helping a friend… once and awhile it’s okay… like every three or four years. 😉

  • Anne…yeasting? as in fermenting? oh my, that’s appropriate as I envision bubbles of ideas rising and popping as they get discarded in my pondering 🙂 I’m pondering now actually. Am in the midst of creating web copy for a client and am almost ready to start writing.

    • Anne

      Yes, although I think of it as the process of yeast in bread, which is also fermenting… the bubbles are what makes the bread rise.

  • I can’t seem to be able of writing without deadlines. Especially when the longer pieces of work are considered. And it can’t be a self-imposed deadline either. That’s probably the reason why I join so many writing challenges. But it’s good for my writing and creativity, so yay deadlines 🙂
    .-= Jane´s last blog ..Planning for the future and Links =-.

    • Anne

      Writing challenges work for sure… actually, I’d forgotten but I made good use of a writing group that met every two weeks – used that as a deadline for at least a couple of years.

  • Pace? For me its more like momentum. With or without a deadline, I always lean back in my office chair and ponder. Then I make a coffee run, pondering along the way. Sometimes I read other blogs while I ponder, or industry information while I ponder. Then, suddenly, I’m ready. I begin to write and go until I’m done. That could mean 30 minutes, it could mean 6 hours. Once I’m done, I stretch and walk away to attend to another project. I try to give myself at least an hour of time away from the recently written so I can review, rewrite, edit, etc. Depending on the project, I do this up to three times. Then my client receives the finished work. Yep, definitely a build up and the gaining of momentum for me. If my workload increases (which I do hope it will) then I will have to look at learning how to pace myself.

    • Anne

      Charlene… what you call pondering I call yeasting… I sure recognize what you’re talking about.

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