I overheard a reporter say recently that deadlines have a clarifying effect. This was said during a talk about how details and setting give a sense of place in a story and how facts by themselves can sit lifeless on a page.
I'm pretty sure the first time I heard the word “deadline” was when I was in fifth grade. It must have been in reference to a report I was taking my sweet time starting. In my writing endeavors, I am slow to start but immerse myself deeply once I do. My book reports were often good but never great because they were started the night before they were due and frequently completed when I stayed home sick.
When I heard “deadline” I’m sure I laughed out loud. I imagined a pencil mark laying on the ground like Wile E. Coyote.
I became obsessed at one point that I wouldn't live beyond 24. When I awoke and was 25, I was at a loss what to do with myself. I made a new deadline that's now 3 years out. My own private rapture. I don't know what lead me to think this. Maybe it's a way of giving myself a deadline. (Rationally, I don't think I will just evaporate as I walk down the street.)
Like many people, I thought those decrying the end of the world recently were a little nutty. Still, I took the opportunity to do a checklist of what I've left undone. I have to say I'm glad they were wrong.