Most writers design their whole work schedule around their respective deadlines, whether it’s something due daily, weekly, or a one-time assignment due in several weeks. Most writers that I know agree that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to be effective without deadlines—even if we have to set them for ourselves.
I’ve never missed a deadline (although I admit to asking for an extension a few times), and I usually like to be a few days ahead of schedule. A few weeks ago I was working on a beast of an article that required several interviews, changes, and additions, and it occupied most of my week, and I somehow managed to complete it a full week ahead of the due date. They’re the ideal situations, but as most of us know, unforeseen circumstances can pop up at any time and make finishing a piece a real challenge.
I was working on another piece that seemed to have no end in sight. Again, I wanted to interview several folks, and working around schedules can be difficult. After numerous messages, unanswered calls, and rounds of phone tag, before I knew it, I was staring my deadline straight in the face and was nowhere near finished. Somehow—no doubt there was some divine intervention involved—I was able to connect with 2 folks for much-needed quotes late Friday afternoon, which meant I spent all day Sunday writing to get the piece finished in time for my Monday deadline. Whew! I felt a little bit like a college student pulling an all-nighter—not normally how I like to work, but I got it done and that’s the bottom line. Despite our best efforts and no matter how much we plan, sometimes we do wind up going right down to the wire. I have a few more pieces in the works, and trying to get as much of a jumpstart as I can now to keep this from happening again.
What about you? What do you do to prevent last-minute cram sessions? Even the best of us face one of these now and then—how do you handle them?