The deadline’s approaching, you haven’t started yet – or worse, you did start and you’re stuck. Each time you sit down to write, nothing comes. Well, something comes, but it’s pretty awful and you can’t send that to the client.
Your heart starts pounding. Your stomach twists. It’s the project from hell… and it’s due for delivery. You’re not going to make it. What do you do?
Freelancers typically have one of three reactions when this situation occurs:
- The writer goes AWOL. He disappears. She doesn’t answer email. The person pretends those increasingly angry requests for delivery don’t exist and hopes that by ignoring the whole situation, the incensed client will just… go away.
- The writer makes excuses. A lot of cherished family members die suddenly around project due dates, and sometimes even twice or three times. Kids get terribly sick, car accidents happen and emergency surgery occurs.
- The writer takes a deep breath, sits down, and admits that the truth is, the work didn’t get done.
Which reaction would you choose when you know you aren’t going to make it?
We’ve all been there at one point or another. Family emergencies do happen. We sometimes underestimate projects and fall short of time. We do take on jobs that seem like fun but end up being energy suckers. Everyone – at some time – has had to face the music of a missed deadline.
But you know what? Owning up offers the best solution. Admitting you just couldn’t make it this time is the most honest answer you could give. It’s also the most effective, because clients can often understand the situation. They’ve been there too, after all.
Writing an email that says you won’t make the deadline isn’t the easiest thing to do, of course. There are ways you can help minimize the damage, though, and turn a difficult situation into a proactive solution.
- Admit the truth. Just come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sorry. It looks like I won’t be able to make the deadline on this one.” Be sure to apologize with sincerity.
- Don’t pour on excuses, heap on justifications or try for pity. The less you say here, the better. Choose one realistic reason you didn’t make the deadline – you overbooked, you underestimated the project, or it’s been a crazy week. Leave it at that.
- Immediately tell the client what you’re going to do to correct the situation. Be proactive. Give a solution and show that you’re already moving forward.
- If you’re not sure what to do, offer the client a choice of possible solutions and ask which is best for that person.
- Be clear about what you’ll do. You’ve futzed once. Now’s the time to say exactly when you’ll deliver – and don’t miss that deadline.
- Apologize again. Just a brief restatement of the fact that you’re sorry you dropped the ball is enough.
You’ll probably get a response from the client after writing in, and be prepared for the tone to be disappointed and upset. That’s okay. Stay calm, keep that positive attitude, be sympathetic and be understanding. Your client has a right to be unhappy (without being rude, of course).
What’s important is that you’ve acknowledged the situation, apologized and moved into action with a plan that resolves the problem. You may end up actually saving the day – despite having missed the deadline.
How about you? Have you ever knowingly come too close to a deadline? What did you do to resolve the situation? And what was the outcome?
Want more great ideas on how to never miss another deadline and even deliver before the day comes? Get the Unlimited Freelancer today. It’ll teach you how to set up fail-proof systems to rock your writing career.