Some Words on Deadlines
Deadlines have been known to produce fantastic writing. They’ve also been known to fill pages with characters that more or less resemble “writing.”
Some of the best deadline writing comes from sportswriters. Games go late, the issue needs to get off to the printer, the story needs to be there for when the fans wake up in the morning. Maybe it’s the late night, the booze and cigarettes, the energy of the game. Perhaps the bar top at the place across the street from the venue is particularly suitable for penning down great ideas.
Sports writing is a very sensuous affair. Sights, sounds, movement, action - most of the time, the story writes itself. Throw all of this into the synaptic blender, and the miracle of the deadline puts all the right words in the right order.
There is a vast difference between writing a story and filling a page. Most content I see nowadays aims to just fill a page. Those sold on the idea of “making a living as a freelance writer” look at assignments as word counts with dates attached to them. It’s not about sharing a story or enhancing a brand; it’s about getting paid.
Those who buy the word-fill content are rarely looking to engage on a level that matters — a reason to poke their way into your social feed.
All content should have a purpose. We get tripped up when we think of “content” as the words on the page, the face in the video, the subject in the picture. That’s just one piece of it.
The clients who say they want to “tell their story” through their content forget that most of the story exists somewhere in their audience’s experience. When I write for clients, it’s more than just putting words on a page. I ask a ton of questions, like:
How will someone be exposed to this story? How are they going to find it?
How do you want them to feel after consuming this content? How do you want them to feel about you?
What the hell should they do next? No, not that. I could give a damn about your “call to action” at this point. More like “yeah, ok, now what?”
Most of these questions are not best answered under deadlines. Publishing three or four times a day might matter if you are beholden to advertisers instead of clients.
Take some time, ask the right questions, better results. You will still hit “publish” long before it is perfect or ready, but there’s no point in rushing a deadline.