Wednesday, November 22, 2023

How Professional Writers Approach Deadlines

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Deadlines tend to have a bad reputation. Editors require writers to submit contracted work on a specific day, and that can be a difficult task. But let me re-phrase that: editors require creative, out-of-the-box thinkers to submit a writing project on a specific date. Not a week or months later. If a writer labored in any other profession, they’d be dismissed for not completing their contracted work. 

Deadlines are a good thing for editors! This allows them to stay on schedule with the publishing house as they work through all areas to ensure the project is perfected for readers. 

What’s the downside of not making a deadline for the publisher? While the editor loves working on projects that are submitted on time, extra work is involved to deal with those arriving late. Every area connected with publishing a book is affected. Frustration and irritation can easily generate unwelcome emotions for all those who must adjust their schedules. The writer they once adored has demonstrated a lack of respect for the publishing house.

What’s the downside of not making a deadline for the writer? When a writer’s contract is finally completed and submitted, the publishing house might not be enthusiastic about contracting again., especially if they had to scramble to complete their work in a timely manner. The writer has proven he/she can’t be trusted with professionalism. The delinquent writer has damaged their integrity.

We writers must plan for our manuscripts to be turned in on or before the due date. Here is a five-step process to ensure we maintain our commitments. I’ve used this method for years, and while I might be up writing and editing in the wee hours of the morning, my publisher is happy.

5-Step Plan to Ensure I Meet My Writing Commitments
  • 1. As soon as a writer has a deadline, he/she studies their calendar. How many writing days (not including weekends, holidays, or traveling days) are available before the due date.
  • 2. Now back up the deadline two months. Determine how many writing days are available until two months before the due date.
  • 3. Divide the word count by the number of days reached in step 2. That’s how many words need to be written every day. We can’t shirk here, and if we do, then we need to make up for the lost word count on another day.
  • 4. With two months to spare before the contractual submission date, let the manuscript rest for two weeks. Don’t touch it. I call this the “cooking” time. Then with fresh eyes, edit hard using the method best suited for your personality. I’m a big fan of text-to-voice software. Newer versions of Word have this editing aid. Scrivener and other writing software also have this tool. Another editing help is Grammarly or Prowriting Aid.
  • 5. Turn in the manuscript on time. Celebrate. Relax. 

With the above simple process, a writer is labeled as easy to work with and a true asset to the publishing house. This marks a professional writer.

What approach do you use to meet your deadlines?


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. 

She is the former director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Retreat, and Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson. Connect here:

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