The Thrill of a Deadline

“Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them;
a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline:
the more time he has, the worse he writes.”

– Karl Kraus

Ever since my sophomore year of high school when I took my very first journalism class, I lived by deadlines. After seven years of journalism training between high school and undergrad, deadlines became natural. They dictate your speed, your intensity, your passion. They give you a finite goal to work toward and a source of accountability.

I have always worked better under a deadline because it puts some sense of pressure on the situation. No matter how late I had to stay up, how tired I was, how delirious I became, I never missed a deadline.

In my last job, I rarely had deadlines unless I imposed them on myself. There were multiple projects that I was told to work on, but I was never given a deadline. And once they slipped the mind of my supervisor, I often let them slip my mind as well while I moved on to the next project. I didn’t work well in that position.

I missed deadlines. I missed the pressure, the thrill, the stress, the anticipation. And I missed the result. Because no matter how stressful the experience of trying to meet a deadline can be, you always get a reward. Your work in print or on the web. This is one of the main reasons I decided to move on from that job and pursue my passion for writing and journalism. I missed deadlines.

I’ve sort of been floundering a little bit the past couple of weeks. Just waiting for something to come along and not really feeling confident in myself during that process. Yesterday, after a lovely two-hour lunch with my former co-worker / mentor, I came home and checked my e-mail, not expecting much, but trying to be positive. I had three assignments waiting for me from the company I just signed a subcontractor agreement with.

Three writing assignments. With three deadlines. As the details rolled in, my heart started racing and my fingers started frantically moving along the keys replying to my liaison within the company. And while I was a little bit stressed out as I realized I have deadlines each of the next three Mondays and I’ve got plans like birthday celebrations and concerts and doctor’s appointments, I couldn’t help but notice that a smile was creeping across my face.

I’m back, I thought. They’re back. The deadlines. The thrill. The excitement. The stress. The anticipation. And soon, the reward. In the form of web content. In the form of experience. And, perhaps most importantly right now, in the form of a paycheck.

Call me a journalism geek if you must, but man have I missed those deadlines. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go get to work.

Work. I love the sound of that.

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2 thoughts on “The Thrill of a Deadline

  1. You would love my job. I am BURIED under deadlines. But I agree that I feel a lot more productive and useful when projects have a FINISH.

    MOVE TO TEXAS.

  2. Structure = Success. That is why you love deadlines- it’s all about structure.
    And Mary, while I love you, stop with the “move to Texas” stuff!!! LOL
    Maybe you should move to Maryland…

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