Missing Deadlines: When It’s OK

by Randy Murray on July 16, 2012

In my life as a professional business writer, I live and die by deadlines. I’ve made my reputation taking on big, difficult assignments and turning in high quality work dependably on time.

It’s not just a part of my business plan. Missing a deadline or other commitment plunges me into crippling guilt. It’s something I’d rather not experience. If I don’t do a good job and I don’t meet my deadlines I can’t just shrug it off. I have to plan and make my deadlines out of simple self preservation.

I will, however, renegotiate deadlines, but I do this infrequently and only with enough notification that it isn’t a surprise to the customer. From this perspective I don’t ever miss deadlines.

For my own projects, my creative work in particular, deadlines are a much different thing. I don’t set deadlines. I create goals. And sometimes, I miss those goals, mostly guilt free. I had a goal of completing a new full-length play by the end of July. That’s not going to happen. And I don’t feel at all guilty about it.

This missed goal (delayed, really) for my play happened for two main reasons: I was much busier with paying business work than I expected to be (which is a good thing) and more important, I discovered in the writing of this new play that I didn’t really understand what the play was about. My characters do, and they’re telling me, but it’s a slow process.

I still plan on completing the initial draft this year and I hope to solicit some of the readers of this site to become early readers of the script, too.

That’s a goal I hope to keep.

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