Do you feel as if you are up against a deadline? There’s just one more day of 2010 and it’s over. Do you have regrets? Unfinished business? Do you feel a need to hurry to complete or start something in order to meet a goal you set early in the year (or even several years ago)?
Is this how you face assignment deadlines—with anxiety, disappointment, pangs of guilt? Do you miss deadlines? How do you handle this? Do you contact the editor or publisher and explain that you can’t meet deadline? Or do you just cram, like you did in college, working all hours of the day and night until you complete the work?
The fact is that some writers and authors thrive on deadlines—claiming it keeps them focused and gives them parameters. These people are good at organizing their lives and their time. Others consider a deadline their enemy—an invisible force set in front of them designed to make them fail.
While some writers do better work under deadline, others get sloppy because they feel so pressured.
Which writer are you? Do you complete projects way under deadline or do you rush in a sweat to the finish line? Or are you somewhere in the middle?
You know, deadlines are not actually steel barriers. If you look at them as steel barriers or as some sort of evil threat, of course, you will experience anxiety. If you can view a deadline, instead, as a gentle reminder, you may have an easier time meeting it. But it is also important that you take the deadline seriously, which may be one reason why people miss them—they dis anything that puts restrictions on them.
Why are there deadlines in a free world? Editors and publishers need to know that they will have material in time for their magazines or their book publishing quota. And generally, they try to create enough leeway for writers in case you need an extension on your deadline if only you would ask. This knowledge might help you to relax about the deadline restriction. But I would be careful. Some of those deadlines are strict and critical. And making a habit of asking to move deadlines or missing a couple of deadlines could definitely hamper your standing within the professional writing community.
What is your attitude about deadlines? Do you love or hate them? Have you ever missed one or asked to have one moved? Was it the end of the world or did the editor/publisher work with you?
I happen to like deadlines. While I might feel a bit of stress when working on deadline, it is the type of stress that keeps me moving forward. It is the sort of stress that helps me to organize my time and dedicate myself to the project at hand. Often I also have other work—I do help run an organization, a household and an editorial business, after all. It can get rather sticky trying to manage all that needs to be done. But then, I don’t commit to a deadline if I don’t think I can do it.
I work with others on deadline, as well. I interview people for a newsletter I write. I ask people to contribute to books and articles I’m writing and so forth. And I always give them deadlines. There are always some who don’t make it. No amount of reminding or prodding can put them on track. There are others who come in way ahead of deadline—like me, they try to get it off of their desk as quickly as they can so they can move on to the next item on their to-do list. And others methodically present me with the information I need exactly on deadline.
Meeting deadlines is an interesting and complex topic as it has more to do with the inner workings of your mind than it does anything else—don’t you think? Some people always arrive to meetings or social events late and cannot see why this would be a problem—they always have an excuse, after all. Other people always arrive early. And then there are those who meticulously show up on time no matter what. I don’t imagine the writer on deadline is any different from the individual at large—those who arrive early will turn in their articles ahead of time, those who are habitually late to events and activities, will have a much more difficult time meeting writing deadlines. Or do you have proof to refute this theory?
This would be a good place to discuss it—leave a comment.