One big advantage to being a freelance writer is not having to punch a time clock for an employer. Of course there are trade-offs for everything in life and in this instance us freelance writing types have traded in a time clock for a deadline. Most would say this is a worthy trade indeed. As a freelance writer how do you really feel about deadlines?
What is a deadline, anyway?
Well, first you’d think that they could have come up with a better name for the darned thing. Any common term related to a particular job field that contains the word “dead” is clearly not oriented to sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.
The term was first coined way back in 1864. Check this out:
While Col. Chandler did describe the deadline in his August 5, 1864, inspection report concerning the Andersonville prison, an earlier inspection report by Confederate captain Walter Bowie to Brig. Gen. R. H. Chilton, inspector general, dated May 10, 1864, also used the term to describe the line over which prisoners were forbidden to go. In it, Bowie wrote: “On the inside of the stockade and twenty feet from it there is a dead-line established, over which no prisoner is allowed to go, day or night, under penalty of being shot.”
The full article is here
Yikes. “…the line over which prisoners were forbidden to go.” Tell me THAT doesn’t describe how you’ve felt at one time or another.
Actually, a deadline is not quite that rough or set in stone. Unless there is some kind of clause in the writing contract, chances are you won’t be shot for stepping over the deadline. This is not free license to ignore a deadline. It is a “gentlemen’s agreement” if you will. It is based on a mutually understood and agreed upon set of time constraints.
Think about it. Have you ever had a project that really had no deadline, no due date? If so, where did this project always end up? That’s right, the fabled back burner.
It happens to the best of us
Any reputable and successful freelance writer tries their very best to deliver to the client a quality project under deadline. Most of us adhere to this because we are principled and because we want to keep our reputation intact. Oh, and there is always the “no-workee, no-payee” thing.
You can be the most principled freelance writer out there, but sometimes life is going to come crashing down your street and land on your doorstep. When that happens, what do you do? Do you curl up in the corner, thumb firmly planted in your mouth whilst you cling to a blanky? Do you flip through your excuse rolodex before sending the client a quick email? Let’s hope not.
This ain’t rocket surgery folks. On many occasions, The Writer’s Manifesto has stressed the importance of communication with clients. It is amazing what you can accomplish with a simple phone call or email explaining the situation. You show the client that you are a caring professional and you get the added bonus of not having to carry a giant weight on your shoulders as you duck phone calls and dodge emails.
Like it or not, deadlines are an everyday part of being a freelance writer. Now tell us, do you have any stories about deadlines gone wrong?