This guest post is by Tor Constantino of Thedailyretort.com.
The old cliché, “time is money” is particularly true for any professional writer—especially when you’re on deadline. The consequences of missing deadlines are lost money, work, and credibility.
As a former journalist (a.k.a hourly deadline writer) for more than a decade, I know that deadline writing is a skill that can be enhanced. Here are three unconventional tips I learned from the newsroom, which might just help you meet your next post deadline.
1. Treat every writing assignment as a project
Most of my journalism career was as a radio news anchor and TV reporter in Rochester, NY—the home city of five different Fortune 500 companies.
Most of the news in that market had a business focus, and I enrolled in business courses to help sharpen those skills. The course that most improved my ability to write to deadline was not a writing course at all—it was a Project Management class.
Every writing assignment should be viewed as a project with actionable tasks, milestones, resource needs, time management requirements, and a final deadline.
While each writing project plan will vary based on its specific needs, they all have some common steps to help organize your writing.
Steps such as developing timelines, identifying content experts, listing story dependencies, and task prioritization dramatically helped me become a more disciplined and deadline-driven writer.
2. Create an interview log
Eventually, every writer talks to another person or expert to gain information regarding a writing project. A digital recorder is a very useful time-saving tool in this regard.
The time-saving trick occurs when you jot down the time code, listed on the device’s display, each time your expert gives a great answer. That written interview log will save tons of time as you select quotes for the writing project.
Another tip is that, since every state has different wiretapping and recording laws, it’s useful to have your expert acknowledge the fact they’re being recorded on the actual recording itself before you start asking questions.
Also, when you’re up against a deadline, it’s useful to capture your own thoughts on the recorder since the average person can talk nearly three times as fast as they can type. Dictation while driving or standing in line helps transform “dead time” into “deadline-driven” time. You can then transcribe your recorded thoughts later, and create that post much more quickly.
3. Enhance your ability to focus
Your ability to focus is the single most important aspect of writing to deadline.
Every newsroom I’ve every worked in has a large bank of Bearcat-type scanners monitoring hundreds of specialized frequencies for police, fire, ambulance and rescue activity to track breaking-news emergencies. On top of that is the auditory barrage from the block of elevated TV screens to keep an eye on competing news outlets. Plus, there’s the obligatory newsroom noise from 20-30 reporters, editors and producers clattering on keyboards or chattering on phones working toward their respective deadlines.
The ability to focus and write meaningful content in that cacophony was a necessary skill for deadline writing that extends beyond the newsroom.
Even if you never set foot in a newsroom, you can practice your ability to focus.
Start by turning up the volume on your television to a distracting decibel, as well as a nearby radio, while someone is simultaneously vacuuming the living room. Do it, really.
Then give yourself 30 minutes or so—in the midst of that noise—to write a blog post that you fully intend to use, or some other writing project you’re working on.
If you do this focus-challenging exercise once a week your ability to focus, think, and write under extreme circumstances will improve—as will your ability to write to deadline.
These deadline-driven tactics can result in real time-saving benefits for virtually any writing project or writing ability.
If you practice them, they could be the difference between making or missing your next deadline‚ and when it comes to blogging deadlines, the time and money you save is most often your own.
Tor Constantino is a former journalist, bestselling author and current PR guy from Washington, DC with 23+ years experience as a professional writer. He writes regularly at his blog, http://www.thedailyretort.com. You can connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook