What it’s like Writing on Deadline

Writing on deadline isn’t easy to explain. It depends on the story, but, no matter what, I always get that “deadline rush.”

Now, the “deadline rush” is, for lack of a better word, adrenaline. It’s like you have this keen ability to write a 500 word story in 20 minutes. Granted, many people can already do that, but you get what I mean. With that rush, everything makes sense. You have the story in your head and you just need to be at your desk and get it out. When I’m on deadline rush, I can’t hear, see, smell anything at all. It’s just me and either my laptop or my desk computer. I focus everything out and make the calls and write the story. It sounds easier than how I’m describing it. Either way, before I send any story, deadline or not, I am going to edit it through a couple of times. You can’t send an editor a story that needs a lot of work. It’s rude and, frankly, downright mean.

My first day at The Chronicle was complete deadline rush. I knew what I had to do. I knew who I had to call. I just had to write the stories.

So, writing on deadline is sometimes fun. There is no better feeling to know that, when it’s all over, you owned that story.

Most of the time, for me, it’s petrifying. That sounds awful, but that’s me being completely honest. I think that’s why I love this job. I may be addicted to being nervous. It’s not like I’m having a panic attack. It’s more like I’m in the zone.

At The Chronicle, we all get there for 7 a.m., but deadline isn’t until after 10 a.m. So, we have time to chat and talk about what happened the day before for a little while. As the time gets closer to deadline, you can see and hear people start moving faster, much faster.  Phones start ringing constantly. Talking stops. Mike, as he edits, is shouting questions to us about our stories. We holler answers back at him. It’s controlled chaos, and I love it. We are all doing our own thing, while doing the exact same thing. We are making news.

It’s better to see it than read about it here. Trust me.

The trick, for me, while writing on deadline, is to check the clock. I feel like I budget my time pretty well, but, on deadline, that tends to not happen at all. Sometimes bad things happen at 9:45 a.m., and sometimes people don’t want to talk or aren’t where they say they would be. The clock, so far, has been my friend in the last couple of weeks. I’m sure in the next couple of weeks, as I get into my new beat, it will be my worst enemy. That’s just the way things go in journalism.

Sidenote: New York Giants to the Super Bowl!

When deadline is over, it’s the best feeling in the world. It feels like when the New York Giants win the 2011 NFC Championship game to go to the Super Bowl versus the Patriots. I’m not exaggerating. Not only have you written the story on deadline, but you are helping your paper out and it’s just plain exhilarating.



2 Responses to What it’s like Writing on Deadline

  1. Pingback: What a day « Just Starting Out

  2. Pingback: “Seconds” before Deadline « Just Starting Out

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