by Brooke Hemingway, Age 12, USA
They are a funny thing: deadlines.
They help writers manage their time wisely and develop good habits. But it’s hard to make deadlines, and sometimes they may seem impossible because we never see them coming. Even as the clock ticks or the grains of sand fall softly into the bottom of the hourglass, the due date never seems to matter until those final, rushing moments. So whether it is a science essay or a writing contest, it often seems like we have all the time in the world. Then comes the realization: we don’t!
Personally, deadlines are the one thing I fear about writing. So much so that on numerous occasions I ignored a deadline until the very last day. Then, when the time came to submit, I rushed and panicked to write a piece in a couple of hours and forgot to proofread my work! The result was a sloppy piece of writing that was not even close to being publishable.
Whenever I got feedback on those pieces, they all said the same thing: “Don’t send in your first draft!”
Clearly, rushing to the very last second was not working.
I tried another way, finishing my writing pieces weeks before the deadline and getting them to the inbox quickly. That was not very smart either. I did each draft at the speed of light and on the same day. This way I could proofread and edit with plenty of time to spare, but I never looked at my story or article from a different angle or perspective. I kept looking at my piece and thinking about how far I had come from my sloppy first draft, not how far I could go to make my piece the best it could be.
I was losing both ways, being pummelled back and forth like a volleyball on the court: too rushed, no proofreading, and back again. I was developing bad habits from my lack of discipline and getting nowhere in the publishing industry.
I really had to sort out my writing priorities. I needed a plan.
So, instead of doing everything way before the deadline or in the last few hours, I went for the spread-out version. Doing the first draft one day, leaving it for a week and then doing the second draft afterward. This process allows me to look at each new draft differently and feel less rushed. I am able to overcome the dreadful ticking of the clock.
Now that I know how to maneuver around the dreaded deadlines, trying to publish my writing is less stressful and easier, too. Even though my experience was painful, it allowed me to grow as a writer. Though it may seem difficult, or even impossible to overcome deadlines, it is doable. You can beat them, as long as you have the right plan.
Brooke says: “Writing is what makes me happy; nothing is better then putting pencil to paper and letting the words fly.”