I Say I’m Not an Eleventh Hour Guy, and Then This Happens…

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,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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