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Top 7 Ways Your Writing Deadlines Can Be Derailed and What to Do About It
By Bobbi Linkemer
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If there is one profession that lives and dies by deadlines, it is writing. Deadlines are serious business, especially for a freelancer. They attest to your dependability and professionalism. The first key to making deadlines is planning. This makes perfect sense, but, unfortunately, if something can go wrong, it probably will. Here are seven ways your plan can go awry.
- Unprepared Clients
While your intention is to determine direction, content, sources of information, and timetable during that first meeting, the client may be unprepared to supply what you need. She may not have it, or she may be waiting for direction or approval from the next person up the line. So, you leave the meeting with only a fraction of what you need, already running behind.
- Multiple Meetings
Following up with a recap, a plan, an estimated fee, and a schedule of payments would be great if there were only one meeting, but chances are there will be two or three before you get a handle on these particular elements.
- Incomplete Contact and Resource Lists
You would begin your research, interviews, and transcriptions if you could. The assumption here is that, not only does the client have a list of people for you to see, she also has contact information and perhaps even appointments. In reality, she probably doesn't have a complete list; she doesn't have all of their phone numbers or e-mail addresses; and she has not set up any appointments. Often, it is up to you to figure out who's who and where to find them before you can interview anyone.
- Unexpected Changes
Eventually, you will write the articles and turn in the drafts but not at all the way you planned. The process is likely to be untidy: stories will be thrown out; contact names will change; people will be unavailable; and your deadlines will be in shambles.
- Slow Approval Process
Correcting or rewriting drafts will definitely be required, probably several times. Each draft will go up the ladder for comments and corrections. Then, when it gets to the top rung, that person (the boss) may say this is not what he wants. So, you start over and go back up the ladder again. This process may be repeated for every story.
- Deadline Blindness
Sooner or later, you will make final corrections and secure approvals, but, by that time, your carefully established deadline will have come and gone. You'll be slightly hysterical, but no one else will seem to care very much. Or, if they do, they may blame you for the delay.
- A contract is a contract.
Needless to say, after all the additions, corrections, and rewrites, the final invoice bears little resemblance to your original estimate. It doesn't matter, though, since the client was prepared to pay the agreed-upon amount and not one penny more. "But," you say, "the project was bigger than originally described, and it took much longer than we estimated." Don't be surprised if you are held to the original agreement.
Sound unfair? Though this example is extreme to make the point, unfortunately, it is not a complete fabrication. Murphy's Law reigns supreme in the world of freelancing. So, what is a conscientious freelancer to do to prevent such frustration and financial loss?
My advice: Prepare for the worst-case scenario you can imagine. Then, build everything that can go wrong into your timeline, estimated hours, and projected fee. Finally, put a clause in your agreement about renegotiating the fee if the parameters of the job change or the client fails to live up to her commitments. Then, don't waver!
Bobbi Linkemer is a book writing coach [http://writeanonfictionbook.com/Coaching.html], editor, and ghostwriter. She is the author of 12 books under her own name and has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs who want to write books in order to enhance their credibility and build their businesses. Visit her Website at: http://www.WriteANonfictionBook.com
Article Submitted On: August 13, 2007