Deadlines are a love/hate thing taken to a new extreme here at SCAD. Students often decry deadlines as being too stressful and killing creativity. I’ve been in many classes where students, poring over their syllabi, wonder aloud how they’re supposed to pull off a single creative project in ten weeks alone, not to mention the three that are actually scheduled, one of them due in two weeks.
The same students produce amazing works of art every time, still complaining about the deadline that’s ever present in the background, like the blade of a guillotine hanging over their neck while they work away frantically in a corner. They come into class and show off their piece, their liver about to fail from raucous energy drinks, coffee and extreme herbal tea consumption, and looking like a nervous sleepless wreck. Their piece is incredible, and the professor loves it.
I, too, remember when I was first faced with a deadline at SCAD. The fear it evoked in me when I saw that I, with my novice writer skills, had to go off and produce a decent nonfiction work by the next class, involving various techniques I’d just learned. I did the “me” equivalent of Jake’s scream song from “Adventure Time” on my ride home that day.
Next class I came in with a reasonably fleshed out piece that the professor really liked. I was surprised. Over the almost four years I’ve been here, the intense deadlines at SCAD have helped me, I think, to produce great works of writing and art. I don’t work well under pressure, but pressure works on me, lighting that necessary fire under my butt and forcing my brain to go into overdrive and explore new avenues to find something worth sharing, to risk my grade over. This is not to say that if I had a full ten weeks to work on one piece or an unlimited time to do it, it wouldn’t be a million times better. I’m sure it would be.
However, SCAD deadlines are something that won’t be present forever. Most jobs will have deadlines of some sort, but not all. This is what’s hard for me to grasp, especially as a writer with some interest in pitching articles and working on novels. I may not have the clock constantly barking at me to push out something awesome in a few short quarters. It’s a scary thought, but I think I’ll be fine. We’ll be fine, y’all.
Just because the deadlines will no longer be looming and we won’t have as much to finish, doesn’t mean we won’t have responsibilities and due dates of some sort. The thought that once we leave SCAD, with its creativity-forcing deadlines, that our creativity is going to dry up is also ludicrous, but it’s a common fear here. If you feel that way, remember that your creativity and hard work is what got you where you are in the first place. The deadlines should really serve as nothing more than the occasionally necessary, butt-burning fire and motivators for lifelong creative self discipline.