How’s it going?
I’d been stressing over an essay subject (a 500 word love letter, of all things) for the past week. I had 11 days to work on it, and it’s due today at 11 p.m. I got it submitted this morning, and I’m here to tell you how.
All because I thought I’d never make it.
If I wasn’t me, I don’t think I could write what I’m about to. I do my best to get everything in before a deadline (ever since I got reprimanded for a late writing prompt submission–once was all it took to cure me). Here I am, all proud of myself for being so on-time, nearly all the time.
Which is what made the essay contest such a big pain.
Yesterday, the Midwest got socked with another snowstorm. I’d barely gotten an idea for the essay, because you write a love letter to anything, or anyone. But all the suggestions seemed so overused.
So anyway, there I was, at about 3 p.m., shoveling the driveway. Which wasn’t a problem–I could barely think. After coming in to relax, and after dinner, the words wouldn’t come easily. I was determined to write things my way, because it would be unique.
I couldn’t get it to work. I kept thinking that maybe I should just forget the whole essay thing and move on.
This morning, the shoveling needed to be finished. That took a little under two hours. Late last night (I think), I broke down and decided to write about something the essay directions suggested–a favorite food. I weaved some true parts of my life around it, and by about noon this morning, I had my essay done and sent in.
There are a few things I discovered from this little incident, and I hope they’ll help you if you’re stuck on something.
Change tactics if something doesn’t work. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the words to flow for my original idea. So I used one of the suggested subjects. The words ended up flowing much better, and I got a lot done in less time. If a story, email, or essay isn’t flowing, shelve what you’ve got, and switch gears a little, whether to another project or a new spin on your current one.
Sometimes deadlines aren’t that bad. They focus you like you wouldn’t believe. I had to get that essay in, or miss my chance at possible publication and a little money, too. Not bad, I gotta say. There are times I feel like being lazy. Deadlines–whether put up by you, or someone else–are a good cure for that.
Something is better than nothing. If I hadn’t abandoned my original plan to write a letter to a future someone, I might still be stuck, wondering what to do. Sure, the subject I chose may be popular, but at least I got something done. And that’s really the point of a writing contest besides payment and publication, isn’t it?
Give these suggestions a shot, if you’re stuck, or even if you find that your creative muscles are a little cramped.
Until next time,