7 Ways To Work To A Deadline
Written by
Fi Phillips
April 2014
Written by
Fi Phillips
April 2014

2014 has been a wonderful year for my murder mystery script writing business with three commissioned plays so far. Fitting the writing of these three scripts into four months has meant working to a tight schedule to meet customer deadlines.

An added complication is the fact that I work from home and juggle my work hours around my two children. Here's how I've managed to keep to my deadlines.

  1. Before I began each script, I had a brainstorming session. I wrote down all the things that I had to do besides writing the script. For instance, I have a morning school run and another one in the afternoon. These are non negotiable. They are a must. However, certain tasks (like filing) can be put off for a few weeks. Decide what is on your non negotiable list and what can be postponed.
  2. I made a time plan. I know how long it will take to devise the concept for a script, and then the length of time it will take to write, edit and polish it. I have my customer deadlines to hand. Looking at the results of my brainstorming session (above), I also know what else I have to fit into the day. My plan has to take all of these things into consideration.
  3. I made a worst case scenario plan. What would I do if either (or both) of my children were off ill? What would I do if i was ill? What would I do if we had a power cut? These are mainly time related concerns so I then altered my time plan to give myself a little toe wiggling room, should the need arise.
  4. As part of the original conversation with my customer, I confirmed and reconfirmed the details of the commission - cast, staging, theme, deadline, contact details, payment terms. Having these details agreed and definite, I could safely get on with writing the script.
  5. Before I begin to write, I ensure I have everything I need to hand - notes, coffee, glasses - so there is no reason to interrupt my writing to go and find something.
  6. To keep to my time plan, I do my best to cut out distractions. I don't answer the phone unless I can see that it's the school or my husband, and I have only the script open on my computer. I can concentrate solely on my writing.
  7. Finally, I give myself permission to say 'no'. No, I can't take the morning out for coffee with a friend (I'll save that treat for when the project is finished). No, I can't spend a couple of hours on the phone to another friend during the day (but in the evening, I'm free to chat). Most importantly, no, I can't take on more work that I can feasibly fit into a working day/week/month/year. Saying 'no' isn't an act of rejection in this instance. It is an honest statement that saves me and everyone else from bad temper, misunderstanding and resentment. It's a healthy laying down of boundaries.

How do you keep to your deadlines?

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