Zestful Blog Post #123
For professional writers, deadlines are a fact of life. Fortunately, they’ve never daunted me. But I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.
Deadlines fall into two categories: Those imposed on you, and those you have occasion to impose on others. The first kind are set by employers, clients, agents, editors, publishers, etc. Sometimes a deadline is not negotiable. Daily newspapers pretty much have non-negotiable deadlines. If you’re writing freelance, your editor has probably told you a deadline that’s a few hours earlier than the real one, but if you want to keep a good relationship with that editor, you get your piece and pictures in on time.
[You want all of your business relationships to be happy rainbows, not crushed raccoons like the one by the side of the road I Photoshopped out.]
But sometimes, as for a magazine article or a short story for an anthology, you can have a say in your deadline. The conversation might go:
You: So, when do you need this by?
Editor: Well, ideally I’d like it by [X date], but [Z date later] would be OK.
You: Let’s split the difference. How bout [Y date]? Would that really be all right with you?
Because something always comes up, and you’re going to be glad for those extra days. So:
Tip #1: Pad it if you can, but not by a lot. You want breathing room, but you don’t want the job to drag on forever. Plus, bosses like it when you make their lives easier.
Tip #2: Never, if you can help it, choose a deadline that falls on a Monday. Once you’ve made that mistake and paid for it by sacrificing weekend plans, you’ll never make it again. I like Thursday deadlines.
Both of those tips work when you have to impose deadlines as well, like if you’re editing something or arranging for production work to be done, like design and printing.
One more thing, for longer-term deadlines months away, like your next book for your publisher. This also works if you’re the requester of work, like if you’re editing a collection or suchlike:
Tip #3: Never choose a date at the beginning of a month. If you do that, everybody’s like, oh, yeah, we have until February 1st to get that done. And they think February all the way through January, until suddenly it’s like, “Ruh-roh, tomorrow’s February, and it’s not just February, its February 1st, and we’ve screwed ourselves.” But if you pick January 31st, everybody at least starts to bear down in January. “Oh, yeah, January deadline on this one.”
All of this works for self-imposed deadlines as well. It’s all psychological, but real.
What do you think? To post, click below where it says, 'No Comments,' or '2 Comments,' or whatever.
If you'd like to receive this blog automatically as an email, look to the right, above my bio, and subscribe there. Thanks for looking in.