It’s the deadline. That’s the answer.
I think about my articles while driving surface streets, standing in store aisles, lying in bed before I fall asleep, and in the morning as I brush my teeth. I create space in my schedule to consider my words. But for all that time spent thinking about an article, it’s the deadline that motivates me to sit at the keyboard and type.
I can do the research in advance and complete my interviews with sources. I can transcribe my notes and ponder the paragraphs I’ll pen. I am ready, prepared, poised on the precipice.
But to write, I need that sense of urgency, that impending doom which will befall me if I fail to produce a masterpiece in the next twelve hours.
When you’re on the wire like that, you only have two options: You can write or you can fail. I won’t let myself fail. So I write. I pour out my guts onto the page, powered by a mug of green tea and time’s ticking clock.
Then it’s on to the editing process. Change the lead. Scrap that paragraph. Revise this section, move that quote here, and check for grammatical inaccuracies.
Now a title. Every piece needs a good title. This is not my strong suit. I usually try to grab a piece of a quote, emphasize a theme, and hope the editor likes it.
That’s the source of my writing power. If I didn’t have an editor to report to at the end of the month, I wouldn’t have any articles. I need her deadline.
I’d like to blame this tick on my time as a staff member at a Nevada newspaper, when we worked beyond midnight to blaring music to beat the clock. But I think it runs deeper than that. All those years in school left their mark. I need a due date for these homework assignments.
Without that calendar cue, I would rarely write.
Want to see my recent work for editors? Read these articles: “The Rumors are True: Perez Hilton presents TY KU Coconut Sake at Las Vegas Pool Party” (See page 88 of the magazine’s digital edition. Warning: celebrity in Speedo.) or “Label-Driven Tasting” (See page 42 to learn what one Olympian did after her sports career.) in The Tasting Panel.
What is your secret to writing? Share your ideas in the comments section below.