What to Do When You Miss a Deadline

You’ve created the schedule for your next book and you’re happily trucking along making great progress on the writing. All of a sudden LIFE happens and you’re schedule is blown to smithereens.

It’s easy to beat yourself up and throw in the towel and say, “Well, I tried but I just don’t have the time I thought I had to write this book. Guess I’ll give up.”

That’s the worst thing you could do when you miss a deadline. So your book might be out a few weeks later than you planned. Trust me, people will still want to read it and won’t mind waiting a little longer.

So what do you do when you miss a deadline? It’s really quite simple.

First and most importantly, be kind to yourself! LIFE happens to the best of us. It doesn’t mean you’re not meant to write this book right now. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. It only means you’re human.

Once you accept that you’re human there’s only one thing you need to do.

Rework your schedule.

Yep, that’s all. This is one of the great things about being a self-published author; you control every aspect including your schedule. This is why I write my schedule on a white board – it’s super easy to adjust it if I need to.

Let’s say you got knocked down with the flu. (True story…this just happened to me on January 2.) The flu is a beast to get over, knocking people out of commission for up to 2 weeks. So once you’re back on your feet simply push all your dates out by 2 weeks. Then get back to work! Easy peasy.

If you want you can see if there’s anything in your schedule you can compress a little bit. If you’re extremely date-driven like I am this might help you feel a little better about losing time. But this is absolutely not necessary! If you compress your schedule just make sure it’s not going to make you stress out or feel rushed.

Here’s an example of how I compressed my schedule this time around and my reasons for doing so. I originally planned to have the rough draft complete on January 8 (Happy Birthday, David Bowie!) and to have my first round of edits (which I do right in my word processor) complete on January 22. I was able to write a bit while I was recovering but not enough to keep me on schedule. As of January 14 I still hadn’t completed the draft. I thought about where I was and what I had left to write. I was very close to the end but stuck on how to wrap things up. I also had a few scenes to add here and there. So I decided to go back to the beginning and start adding the remaining scenes. A few chapters in to this process I realized that I could combine this with my first round of edits. So that’s what I did and I even managed to complete the first edit 2 days early!

Another reason I felt comfortable with this is that my book will be going through an extra round with my editor than my previous books have. I’m working with a new editor this time and she has a different process in which after I update my manuscript with her changes she goes through it one more time. I didn’t have this previously so felt comfortable compressing my own editing timeline a bit.

Bottom line is be aware of all the factors when trying to compress your schedule after a LIFE event. As I said, it is NOT necessary to do this so if you feel any stress at the thought of a shortened timeline, don’t do it!

It took me a long time to learn how to be kind to myself when I missed a deadline. I used to just freak out for a while and then go full steam ahead, staying up late and losing sleep working extra hard to catch up to my original schedule. This was a horrid way to go about it, and now I do what I talked about above. It relieves so much stress and allows the process to still be enjoyable. And the best part – I still get to sleep every night!

What do you do when you miss a deadline? Leave a comment and let me know!


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