I can approach deadlines from two perspectives–the freelancer and the editor.
From the freelancer perspective, I need deadlines. I once had an editor that told me to send the story when I had it and she would work it in. Really? To this day, I don’t understand how she managed her editorial content. But, the truth of the matter is that I ALWAYS put her projects on the bottom of my list because I didn’t have a deadline.
Once I have the deadline for a story in hand, I put it on my calendar a full month ahead. For instance, if my editor asks me to turn in the story by July 1, I put it down for June 1. Why would I do this? Because you never know.
You never know when your perfect expert will decide to go to Europe on sabbatical. (That’s happened to me.) You never know when you will get the flu. (That’s happened to me.) You never know when your car will break down and you have to reschedule an interview three times. Then you have to conduct the interview doped up on Benadryl because you were stung by a bee and it was the last possible time you could meet with this person. (That’s happened to me.) You just never know.
Now, from the editor’s perspective, I want to know why all freelancers cannot take deadlines as serious as I do. You would not believe how many times, as the editor of a regional lifestyle magazine, I’ve had to remind a writer to turn in his story. It is dumbfounding.
When you fail to turn in your story on time, it throws a wrench in the cogs. The editing is held up, the layout and proofreading are held up, the magazine is late for the printer and consequently late on the stands. The advertisers are not happy. Perhaps they pull their ads. Accounts receivable suffers. And you, late freelancer, still want your check in the mail. (Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but you never know.)
So, take a look at your works in progress. What are your deadlines? Get them done, people. Because the day may come when that editor doesn’t send out the reminder. He just fills your spot with someone more conscientious than you. And that freelancer gets the check.
Meeting your deadlines is only one way to make your editor happy. For a free checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten something, fill out the form below.