On missing updates

I'm trying very hard not to do so, and I've managed thus far. I'm rather proud of this; having bipolar disorder isn't friendly toward being able to do creative things on a schedule.

However, as I'm sitting here with my next update to go up in five hours, a chapter about one tenth finished, a low fever, my skeleton one big solid ache and periodic dizzy spells, it's looking more and more like I'm not gonna make this one. The fat lady hasn't sung yet, but if I'm to face facts I may not get there on time.

I wonder if anybody has insights on coping with this? I feel pretty awful about it, personally. I read a lot of serials and webcomics; the updates are part of my day. It's always a letdown when one doesn't have new content on its usual schedule. TGaB doesn't have an update schedule even posted on the site--something I keep meaning to get to--but I've consistently put up chapters every Monday-Wednesday-Friday since its inception. I hate to disappoint my readers.

If I fail to slide in under the deadline...or, heck, just for future reference...how does one make it up to one's audience when these things happen?

Usually, if you explain the situation and tell them that you'll put the chapter up as soon as possible, most people will understand. Just explain that it simply isn't possible to get the post up on time, you are very sorry, and you will try to get it up as soon as possible.

Short version: if you miss deadlines it's not as catastrophic as it's made out to be. If you miss an occasional deadline, it doesn't even really effect your traffic.

If you miss a lot of deadlines, or you miss a few by a lot, it *will* effect your traffic. Your traffic will go down. However, and this is the important part, it's not the end of the world. It's not unheard of for writers to get discouraged by the lack of updates and quit, or get discouraged that the audience doesn't immediately come back, and quit... but if you start writing again, you'll start getting traffic again. It'll take time to make up the loss, and that's something you'll have to take on the chin and shrug off as you keep writing.

How do I know this, you ask? Heh.

I hope you feel better soon, D.D.

Thanks, I hope so too!

I did get my chapter up before deadline, which makes me feel good.

So long as your deadline isn't in the middle of the day and you're not quite so hotly anticipated as a certain well-known exception, being late isn't quite so bad. It's completely missing an update that's the issue. If you have to be an hour, two, or even three late, especially right after the time change, it's not nearly so bad as just not having an update at all.

Sometimes, things get in the way.

You need a buffer. I haven't missed an update in over 4 months, and my buffer of 10 chapters is why. There's other advantages, as well... I can highly recommend having one.

a buffer is the big suggestion, but some of us just cant run with buffers, needing the feedback on this chapter before starting the next. So instead of a buffer, asides. Interludes. Whatever you ant to call them. Have a bunch of short updates that are tangetial to the plot ready to go that you can post if need.

The funny thing is I started with a ten-chapter buffer, immediately hit a severe depressive episode and burned through it. I've been writing by the seat of my pants ever since and haven't had time to make up the difference, with the update schedule I've got myself on.

That's actually a very common occurrence--not specifically the severe depressive episode, but starting with a buffer and watching it burn away.

When I did Pay Me, Bug! I started with the entire novel, so a buffer wasn't a problem. When I started The Points Between I had about eight chapters, but it also started updating through NaNoWriMo so half of it was immediately sacrificed to November. It's amazon how fast it'll go away if you aren't constantly feeding it.

Some people are good at feeding the buffer. Me... not so much.

Part of my problem may be that my update schedule is so ambitious. I'm averaging four to five thousand words, thrice weekly. It's not too much for me to keep up with, but...keeping up with it AND building a buffer hasn't happened. Much as I love writing, I do need downtime or the creative circuits overheat and short out.

Sounds like you're matching the pace I maintained in 2012. I didn't build a buffer either.

I'm afraid I don't have any advice. My stance was always, "There's no point to worrying about missed updates because I refuse to let myself miss one." Any energy I'd spend on worrying went toward not letting it happen. I didn't give myself a choice in the matter.

More from the perspective of a reader/follower/watcher of regularly scheduled content rather then from the writer's perspective....there's certainly quite a few things from web comics, web serials to Youtube channels that I follow that have regular schedules, and most of them do miss an update occasionally. From the perspective of someone checking in, hoping to find new content and being disappointed, I have to say having an explanation or just being told 'sorry folks, life is life and I couldn't make it today' makes a huge difference. Sure it's still a bit disappointing when you're really looking forward to that episode or the newest comic strip, but just an acknowledgement that the update isn't there, goes a long way.

What gets annoying is when you keep checking throughout the day and no update comes and no explanation or just a short message saying 'no update, sorry!'. No explanations so often tailspin into more and more sporadic updates until eventually it just putters out completely. Similarly if someone does occasionally miss an update but has a track record of consistently coming in time for the next scheduled update, it goes a long way towards me not minding it as much.

So at least from a reader's perspective, just acknowledging that there is in fact no update, goes a long way and means a lot :-) At least where I'm concerned.

My serial and its schedule doesn't really work much like anybody else's around here I think, so no comment there; but as a reader I don't really camp people's websites down to the minute to check for an update. I think as long as you get them done within a reasonable stretch of time from when you promised to do it it'd be fine. Stuff happens, and as someone with some mental issues of my own, I definitely feel ya.

I'd guess that seeing as you update thrice weekly, your readership will be quite forgiving if you miss or delay one of those updates. As was mentioned, just make sure to give an indication about it.

Would it be a good idea to take a week off, write without updating? That way you're gonna have a backlog of at least three updates and you can build on that.

Of course, warn your readers beforehand. This might be a horrible idea, though. I'm just a newbie, one who failed to keep up with their serial and has to reboot.