Missing deadlines can mess up your writing process. If you tend to panic when you miss deadlines, here are a few steps to help you get your work done.

How to bounce back after missing a writing deadline.
How to bounce back after missing a writing deadline.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I’m not good with writing deadlines, whether they’re in school or at work. But I’m even worse about missing them. There’s nothing like the dread of having to turn something in late to complete tank your ability to write.

If you’re like me, it can help to have a game plan for missing deadlines. If you’ve got to make up a deadline, it can help to know what you need to do. Here’s what I usually do.

Step #1: Get An Extension

Once you've missed a deadline, get your extension as soon as possible.
Once you’ve missed a deadline, get your extension as soon as possible.
Photo by Krsto Jevtic on Unsplash

Throughout most of middle school and high school, I had a bad habit of missing deadlines and trying to deny it. I’d do things like say, “I forgot it at home”, and then frantically rush home and try to finish it by the next day. Or I’d write rough drafts of papers in the cafeteria twenty minutes before it was due. You get the idea.

The thing is, denying a deadline always seemed to make it harder to keep writing. Maybe it’s because I was scared. Maybe it’s because I felt guilty. Mostly, it was because I was pushing the limits of how long I could go without doing anything.

If you miss deadlines, the first thing you need to do – the absolute first thing – is talk to your teacher, or your editor, or whoever’s waiting for you. Admit that you missed the deadline and figure out if you can get an extension. This will clear up the confusion, and it’ll be easier to write once you know how much time you have left.

Step #2: Sort Out Your Priorities

Pictured: real footage of my writing desk in college
Pictured: real footage of my writing desk in college
Image from Pixabay on Pexels

The annoying thing about having to make up a missed deadline is that most of the time, it coincides with getting more work. If you’re not careful, this can lead to a whole cycle of missed deadlines as you put off new work in order to make up old work.

This is why it’s important to get a clear extension. If you have to get that late work done now, it’s important that you get started right away so you can move on to more recent work. If you have a little more time though, you might want to get any quick, easy work out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it later. Or you could draft this week’s writing, then start working on your extension.

Different writers have different writing processes. It’s hard to say what will work for you, personally, when there’s a million different ways to get things done. But whatever your style, it always helps to have a plan.

Step #3: Start Writing

Once you have your deadlines sorted out, it's time to get writing.
Once you have your deadlines sorted out, it’s time to get writing.
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

If you didn’t finish writing before the deadline because you were too busy, this should be pretty easy. You’ve got your new deadline and organized your other deadlines, now’s the time to get your writing done. If there was another reason why you didn’t finish on time, you might want to consider why writing this particular thing might have been so hard for you.

Do you tend to procrastinate while writing? You might need to address that if you find yourself missing deadlines a lot. Is there a reason why you couldn’t tackle this specific topic? It might help to approach it from a different direction.

I’ve been through plenty of assignments or blog posts that took forever to write because I kept looking at them from the wrong angle. Sometimes, you’ll need more time than you’re usually allowed to figure it out. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be impossible.


Missing deadlines can be a nerve-wracking experience for writers, and the pressure can mess up your writing process even as you’re trying to catch up. Usually, the best thing you can do is get organized before you start tackling your late work.