No, I am not talking about my jeans. Or Spanx. I’m talking about deadlines. Yeah, I’m one of those sickos who loves deadlines. I thrive on ’em. So needless to say this WordPress Daily Prompt is right up my alley:
“Do you thrive under pressure or crumble at the thought of it? Does your best stuff surface as the deadline approaches or do you need to iterate, day after day to achieve something you’re proud of? Tell us how you work best.”
It’s a good thing I’m a stress junkie, because advertising is all about deadlines. They’re a constant and they’re brutal. And they seem to get worse and worse all the time. As I think about it, it’d be a stressful business even without the deadlines.
You try sitting in front of a blank computer screen every day waiting for an idea to hit you, or words and sentences and images to start forming in your mind. It’s not easy, trust me. I’ve been doing this for a helluva long time — more than 30 years — and I still quiver every time I get a brief — hoping against hope it won’t be the day my mind stays blank.
Because it’s not like we have a switch we can turn on and off at will. It either happens or it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, well, what are you supposed to do then? Eat cat food?
Now factor in the deadlines and you’ve got a recipe for an ulcer. Or a heart attack. Or a drug or alcohol problem.
Or, in my case, much better work than I’d do if I had all the time in the world.
That’s why I loved blogging every day when I did it last year. I didn’t have time to angst. I’d sit down, turn the computer on, and start writing. And because I was writing everyday I never seemed to be short on ideas. It’s like exercise. The more you do, the better you get. The easier it becomes. The more addicted to it you become.
Even on those rare occasions when I have a fair bit of time, I behave like I have no time. I get started immediately. First of all I like to attack the work while it’s all still fresh in my mind. The longer I wait, the harder it is for me to get started. Also, psychologically, I like to know I’m done, with time to spare — then I have the luxury of having the rest of the time to perfect my work. That’s when I like to take my time. In the reading. And the re-reading. And the editing. And the polishing. And the crafting.
Just last week I had a new project to work on. The client warned me the deadline was tight and sent me a copy of the brief right away. I was volunteering that day so I couldn’t actually start to work until I got home in the evening, but it was percolating in my brain all day. By the time I went to sleep that night I had several ideas. By mid morning the next day, I was able to send what I had to the client.
The deadline I’d imposed on myself was tougher than his. Which is exactly the way I like it.