And just like that, because of the deadline

At 16 minutes to midnight, he still had no theme for the blog that was to go live in 17 minutes. That’s the beauty of a firm deadline: Something is going to ship. Theodore Sturgeon famously said that 90 percent of everything is crap. But the world of creative energy is full of brilliant work that was banged out in 10-15-20 minutes. Although now he had less than 20 minutes to be brilliant.

“Write anything until you write something,” I have said repeatedly. The point is to move your fingers, keep up a pace, make sure words are forming on the page even if it’s Sturgeon’s 90 percent. The theory is that making words of any kind stimulates the brain to focus on trying to make words that count.

Some really crappy college papers have been written when the student waited to get started until the night before the project was due. But award-winning news has been created after someone made the decision that “This story is going on tomorrow morning’s talk show, period.”

There are two kinds of project. There’s the one that you’re going to get around to someday. And there’s the one that goes live at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning, and you don’t care if it’s 11:51 p.m. as you type this.

It’s been said so many times that it’s a cliche: Someday never comes.

But 12:01 a.m. comes around every 24 hours. 

Set a goal, set a deadline, and the job gets done.

It really is that simple.

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