Recently I pitched an editor a blog post idea. When her acceptance popped into my email I did my usual cheer and happy dance. Ideas for the piece filled my brain. I plopped back in my chair and fired off my next question, “When would you like the piece?”
The editor responded with a generous deadline. I went into organizational mode and decided I could work on my novel and a few other writing tasks during the current week and a half. Then I scheduled my project start time in my calendar, closer to the deadline the editor had given me.
This has been my usual plan of attack. Up until recently, it was a good plan. This time was different, though and I learned a few lessons on why we should take advantage of the current moment when we have it.
Five reasons to write your assignment when the idea hits.
1) There’s No Time Like the Present
I know it’s cliché, but the best time to strike is when the concept is hot. This early stage is when the idea is fresh: the point when you’re mentally outlining, organizing, and plotting the angle that gives it that raw edge. Without trapping those bits right then, you risk the gems falling into the cracks hidden from view when it comes time to write the piece. bIf you put off the writing, your angle may change. You may not remember that one tiny tip that was going to have a significant impact. The idea may wear thin. Don’t let that happen, when it’s hot, go with it.
2) You Earn Bonus Points With the Editor
Editors are used to people turning in work on deadline. When they are handed something well in advance of deadline, they have plenty of time to make changes and then get the piece scheduled. That leaves them one less slot to worry about. Plus they know they can count on you to provide your material quickly. In the event of a scheduling conflict they may reach out to you before you can draw up another pitch to them. It’s a wonderful thing for an editor when they have a piece to slot in at a moment’s notice.
3) You Alleviate Scheduling Conflicts
If you are quoting a source or have to track down a source for information, doing so right from the start prevents problems with scheduling conflicts. Nothing is more horrifying than discovering the person you were going to contact won’t be available until the day after your deadline. Getting on the phone and scheduling the appointment as soon as possible prevents heart-ache and panic attacks.
4) Next Week Something Could Derail Your Momentum Train
Unforeseen circumstances crop up. This is what happened to me. “Oh, I have plenty of time, I’ll do it this day.” Unfortunately, the day I scheduled to work on my piece arrived and I received a horrible phone call. My father had a stroke. It’s kind of hard to get your mind on the assignment when fielding text-a-thons and phone calls and worrying about a loved one. Even though I planned on working on the piece early that week, I was derailed for a few days. Once I knew Dad would be okay, it didn’t help my brain concentrate. The piece I was writing was light-hearted, but my brain felt anything but fun. Forcing the piece made it stiff and cumbersome and I couldn’t capture the fun that I had pitched. If I had jumped on my rough draft back when the idea was percolating after the editor’s go-ahead, I could have avoided a last minute all-nighter. Get it done because you don’t know what’s in store for next week
5) You Keep the “I’m unstoppable,” Fire Stoked
An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Like Newton’s Law, we are more productive when in motion. The more we write the more ideas come to us, the better our writing gets, the more productive we feel. When we feel productive, we feel successful. Don’t let that feeling slip away. Keep adding coal to the engine.
I had to learn number four the hard way. Hopefully these ideas will help prevent deadline anxiety for other writers.
What have you learned the hard way and how did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments or on social media, using the hashtag #5OnFri!
Diane DeMasi lives in the state of Washington where the overcast skies and her over-active imagination fuel dark stories. To this day she still believes the only reason her father-in-law admits to using the motorized carts in Lowes is because they are super powerful and he and the other men joust with dowels over the last piece of teak wood. She shares creepy pictures, creepy stories, heartfelt stories, and funny moments on her Facebook page (and she’s always interested in h