“Pathologic Inability to Meet Deadlines”

This post was written by John White on Thu, 07 Aug 2008 08:12:28 +0000
Posted Under: deadlines,rapport with writer

Does that phrase echo in your brain when you think about hiring a freelance writer? I saw it on a writing blog the other day.

Nobody likes unreliability in anyone – a stockbroker, a teacher, a spouse – least of all when somebody else downstream is depending on a delivery. Do you have reliability-problems with your writer?

Here are a couple of ways to think about this. None is a perfect solution, but perhaps you can use them in combination to deal with this.

Pick Your Priorities
Everybody wants best-cheapest-fastest. Which do you want most? If you’re getting good content (“best”) at the price you want (“cheapest”), then maybe you give a little on deadlines (“fastest”).

Engage Your Writer on the Subject
Tell your writer about your priorities. Find out why he misses deadlines. You have needs in this relationship and as long as you don’t get ruthless and stake a claim to all of the marbles, you and the writer can have some kind of dialog beyond, “What should we do about the first paragraph?”

Build It Into the Contract
You can try to clause your way around the problem of punctuality by building in milestones and consequences, but if your writer has serious reliability-problems, that won’t help much. This may suit your personality and business-preference, though. Be prepared to play the heavy if push comes to shove and you need to invoke the consequences (warnings, notices, discounts for late delivery).

Ask the Writer
Ask your writer candidly what she would do in your position, if deliveries were consistently late. That’s as close to the bone as you can get in stating your view of the problem. Frankly, though, some people – not just writers, believe it or not – suffer from a pathologic inability to put themselves in anybody else’s shoes, so you may not get very far with this.

Folks, this is a business relationship, so treat it like one, and convey your attitude to your writer. You can be fair and work out a satisfactory middle ground for both of you, even if you have to move from best-cheapest-fastest to better-cheaper-faster.

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