Of course you know how to meet a writing deadline! You’ve proven that over and over again. But…
Life happens. Even when we’re managing our time wisely, and have a calendar that works, Even if we’ve built a reputation of meeting a writing deadline. Sometimes it seems that life conspires to make us late.
It might be your fault and you simply blew it this time. Or maybe you got sick or injured and couldn’t meet that writing deadline.
Once in a while it isn’t even your fault. More than once I’ve had an editor promise me information in time for me to make it, and not received it. Or a scheduled interviewee doesn’t show and doesn’t respond to your email or call. Or lightening strikes and kills the power not just in your home but for miles around.
How important are deadlines anyway?
The reason behind deadlines boils down to the fact that someone somewhere needs a piece of writing by such and such a time. Maybe it’s a print date for a magazine or book. It might be that the blogger you’re ghosting for has trained her audience to expect a post every Wednesday. If you’re dealing with television or movies or publishing there are always deadlines.
And it’s true, sometimes it’s okay to slip a deadline, but the chances are you don’t know which deadlines are slipable. I was literally surprised that some writers didn’t make deadlines when I first became the editor of a publication.
In other words, a writing deadline is important if for no reason other than when you accepted the assignment with that deadline you were giving your word.
It’s also true that editors tend to drop writers who don’t make a writing deadline – which is why you want to meet them.
Early notice eases the pain
The sooner you let the person in charge know you’re going to miss a writing deadline the better. The more time you can give the editor to fill the spot with some other writer, the more likely they are to be willing to accept your excuse and hire you again.
You know the way you work and often can spot a deadline problem long before it arrives. That’s why if you even suspect you might deliver late you should let the editor know at once. That way you can both work together to solve the problem.
When there’s no warning
When there’s no or little warning, pick up the phone and let the editor or publisher know directly you’re going to be late. Give them the reason briefly and tell them exactly when they can expected it.
If for some reason you can’t make the call but you’re conscious, get someone else to do so.
Don’t rely on email when there’s short notice. Use the phone and if you have to leave a message back it up with a text message as well.
Apologize, but don’t grovel
If you miss a writing deadline, by all means apologize, but keep it simple. There’s no need to grovel or beat yourself up. All that accomplishes is making everyone involved feel awful.
The real takeaway is a missed deadline can cause havoc and the sooner you let them know the better. An hour’s notice is better than none at all. Meeting the writing deadline is, of course the best.
Write well and often,