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.
Most 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.
Arguably 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.