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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Quality & Deadlines

Once upon a time, in a software business environment, far far away, a manager did enthuse the mantra of Quality and Deadlines. The instant reply from amongst the minions, mere practical hard-workers, was: "Which do you want?"

Having remembered this, it got me thinking that this would make a good discussion topic as applied to writing. Obviously, some deadlines cannot be moved: those for competition submissions and other publisher/editor imposed dates. What about self-imposed deadlines though? How do you find balance between a realistic, achievable deadline; and an acceptable level of quality? Not to mention factoring-in other annoyances and interruptions, such as real life?

One of the projects I'm working on with a friend has recently had a deadline applied to it, by ourselves. We're constantly measuring and tracking our progress, and are therefore able to set what we think is a realistic deadline for the first draft to be completed. The graph below shows that we seem to be on-track for a deadline of 1st November with 80,000 words.

When it comes to the later stages, we'll have a think about what editing will need doing, and how to achieve quality and meet deadlines for that.

What are your experiences in such things? Do you plod on until it's "finished" without regard for timeliness. Or do you set a deadline to reach and then improve the quality at later stages?

10 comments:

Lane said...

I was plodding until last Sunday's chat. Now that the deadline has been set I'm looking at it in a different light and trying to businesslike. Haven't done a graph yet though:-)

Denise said...

I started setting deadlines a few months ago, after realising I would just never finish otherwise! I think number of words per month on a first draft works quite well. You know it's going to need editing and you're just getting on with the story. I've found editing deadlines much harder, because I do stop and wonder if it's good enough and then don't get enough done.

When I haven't met my self-imposed deadline I've tried to catch up the next month but it rarely works. I've usually just tried to get my original amount done in that time period and not get hung up on the guilt!

Sarah*G* said...

Comme nt not related to this post. Thought I would give you the url of the stat counter I use. The one that lets me know what brings people to my blog.

http://www.statcounter.com/

womagwriter said...

If your manager wants both quality and deadlines, she has to accept a cut in scope. Write shorter!

Sadly that doesn't work, does it? It can take just as long to perfect a 1000-word story as it does to write a 4000-word one.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I set myself deadlines. I find deadlines motivate me, even self-imposed ones.

CC Devine said...

I set deadlines and often manage to stick to them but occasionally everything goes out the window.

Captain Black said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. It sounds like deadlines are generally a good idea.

Now, if only we can meet them...

WomagWriter: Welcome! Dropping features, reducing scope - I hadn't thought of that. Not sure I can, though Mr S King says you should "murder your darlings". I'll consider an FDD approach for future projects.

Gonna be a writer said...

I like to work to a deadline because it focuses my mind. However the deadlines that I set myself don't scare me enough to stick to. If someone else sets me one though that's a different story.

motherx said...

I supose I am a plodder. But in saying that I do set myself a word count that I must do each day. I will not leave the house until it is done! (getting strict with myself!)

Annieye said...

I like deadlines. Practically all of my day job is related to deadlines. It really focuses the mind and you can always factor into the deadline time for editing and quality checks.