The Challenge of Writing Creatively when you have Deadlines to Meet

You may think of deadlines as the scourge of the modern world, few would disagree. Yet they do serve a purpose. Even the writer must obey them.

I love to spend time using my creativ­ity to write origin­al mater­i­al, yet of course there are times when being creat­ive has to take second place to paying projects that are sitting on the desk await­ing comple­tion. One a few weeks age week required much research and a lot of reading time (for which I was not paid). The looming deadline meant that I would be unable to let my creat­ive juices flow (or so I thought). In retro­spect I was wrong. Projects do provide creat­ive oppor­tun­it­ies here’s how.




Facts by Geralt CC0 Public DomainMost of life has been about living with deadlines. I know that getting the problem resolved on time is vital. It drive business to a large degree. Yet, I have always preferred the deadlines that I have set, than those set by others.

Both are clearly import­ant. For writers failure to meet the deadline can mean you do not get paid. Perhaps you work is also not published. Something every­one should consider. Indeed Lisa Edwards suggests it is import­ant for a writer to set themselves deadlines even if they have not been given any by the client.

The worst thing about deadlines, is when problems occur that are outside of your control — on this occasion my challenge was an optic­al mouse that stopped working mid way through. Thank goodness laptops have mouse-pads built into them. They are tough­er to use but at least they work. Of course it is not just techno­logy that wishes to ignore your deadlines it is other people.
They fail to grasp the urgency you have for the project at hand. When you need something from anoth­er person then it is essen­tial you commu­nic­ate clearly what you need and when you need it. Ensure the other person under­stands your needs. Perhaps why it is neces­sary.

Clear Lines of Communication

The problem of other people is that they do not share your prior­it­ies. What is urgent for you is not for them and all the persuad­ing in the world doesn’t help. Long ago, I learnt that when something you are working on requires other people’s input, ask them for it and set them a “strict” deadline before you commence your own work. Check in with them a few days before the deadline to ensure they will deliv­er on time.
Business is, of course, all about deadlines. Ignore them means you are going to remain poor for a long, long time. Further, no-one will want to work with you.
I have always thought it best to beat deadline dates and do so by as many days as possible. Make your deadline more aggress­ive than the clients one. They wish something delivered on the 21st, make sure you complete it by the 7th (or at worst the 14th). This is import­ant. Early deliv­ery can gener­ate repeat work. Clients prefer those who deliv­er quality mater­i­al ahead of sched­ule. Vital for anyone working on commis­sions.
Of course sometimes deadlines cannot be met. This is especially true when thing occur that are out of your control. Let your client know as early as possible it you expect to encounter such problems. Good clients will often assist you in reach­ing that deadline. Perhaps opening up lines of commu­nic­a­tion.


Creativeness has many possib­il­it­ies. When final­ising your work it becomes time to apply all the “spit and polish” neces­sary to make your work really shine out. In writing the first draft is a long way from being complete. Frequently the second and third drafts should not be shown to others. This is a mistake many blog writers make in their desire to publish quickly. Ensure you complete the project.
Many people reason that they have edited their piece quite a few times already and that last inspec­tion is not neces­sary. In my exper­i­ence that last inspec­tion reveals both oppor­tun­it­ies to make the work shine but also reveals a few little fixes required, like the ‘not’ that should be a ‘nor’ or vice versa. I frequently have three or four ‘last inspec­tions’.
When you are writing for the Internet you also need to think specific­ally about the impact of SEO. The question will be how to make you work more visible. What oppor­tun­it­ies are there to link to other relev­ant mater­i­al? There are many oppor­tun­it­ies to link to other pages on the client’s site. Linking to partner sites is anoth­er possible route.
Making changes to fit any limited space require­ment will certainly draw on all your skills. When the client wants it written in 500 words you must craft it to fit. Don’t leave it to an editor who doesn’t share your vision of the work. They will almost certainly make differ­ent cuts than you would. One element of advice here is that active voice tends to provide more focused wording. Passive voice tends to ramble.



Positive ApproachArguably there is more pure enjoy­ment from something you are free to craft from scratch using your own ideas and creativ­ity at a time when you are not limited by the needs of a client. However, just because someone else provides the work does not mean that you cannot be just as imagin­at­ive, creat­ive, or express­ive albeit fitting within their specif­ic guidelines. It is your profes­sion­al duty to step up and provide your best work at all times.
The report I just created had to analyse the findings of sever­al other people’s work. In part there was a need to identi­fy those lessons avail­able to the client. All neces­sary in order to create a propos­al for changes to exist­ing proced­ures. I spent time simply analys­ing these other reports, highlight­ing issues, and throw­ing research mater­i­al into Evernote in order to put togeth­er my rough notes, having done this it was clear there were some recur­ring themes. By re-organizing my notes the focus of my analys­is started to become clear — a clarity I wished was present when I first started research­ing this topic.
I guess that is the point — the possib­il­ity of being creat­ive even using other people’s thoughts, so there is a marry­ing togeth­er of creat­ive­ness and profes­sion­al­ism.  Now it is complete. You have sent it out. Then is the time for creativ­ity on your own behalf.

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Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a thank you for this article.




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