Many people experience a feeling of dread in their stomach when they hear the word “deadline,” but every once in awhile, you find someone who actually welcomes the pressure. This seemed to be the case with the team leaders with whom I spoke for this week’s story on the 48 Hour Film Project.
As a reporter, it was a comfort to talk to others who see the hidden benefits of working on a tight schedule.
In school, I was always that kid who could rattle off 30 pages on something like the history of bowfishing, or the complexities of owning an ant farm. It wasn’t because I was wordy, or an overachiever. It was because I absolutely refused to make a decision.
I’d pretend I was interested in every possible aspect of ant farms, but in reality, I was afraid that if I chose one approach, I’d be passing over a better one.
Recently, I’ve realized that reasoning applies to life about as well as it applies to a four-lane interstate. That is to say, not at all.
If a driver doesn’t pick a lane and stick with it, she could end up in a wreck. Likewise, when I can’t choose an angle for a story, things get messy: in trying to include everything, my story will accomplish nothing.
Deadlines often feel like they were put here with people like me — the chronically indecisive — in mind.
Having completed the 48 Hour project a couple years ago myself, I know that all the pressures can, paradoxically, set people free. You don’t have the luxury (or for me, the torture) of considering all your options in detail. You stop doubting your decisions, not because you’re any more confident, but because you know the clock is ticking.
Mistakes are bound to be made when you’re running on two hours of sleep and have 10 minutes to, for example, write a column. The errors are most often just embarrassing, at least for me. But every so often, what would usually be a catastrophe can turn out to be an unexpected advantage. And people do come through with brilliant solutions at the 11th hour, and that’s what makes the 48 Hour Film Project worth watching.
Sure, it’s stressful. Yet I prefer that kind of stress to the months, or even years, of worrying that go into any project without a definite deadline.
That’s a big part of why I like my job, even (or especially) when the pressure is on.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.