It is often asked during job interviews about how well you cope under pressure. I doubt that, in the history of the world, anyone has said: “I cave, make loads of mistakes, and break my wrists whilst I am wringing them in anguish.” Or words to that effect. I suspect most people would tell their interviewer that they do their best work under pressure, or that they thrive and it propels them to greatness.
I bring this up as I was under much pressure today. I’ve mentioned before the BBC Comedy Room where unsolicited scripts could be sent in for them to read. The deadline for that was 5pm today. I woke up this morning in the knowledge that I had completed half of the bare minimum – 30 pages of script. I was 15 pages in, with around eight hours to pull half an episode out of the bag. More experienced people than me may view this as easy; I don’t know. But for me, it was a big, big ask.
You know what? I CAN cope under pressure. Time will tell if I have thrived or not but I can say that I submitted a full script that I was completely happy with by 4:30pm. Characters became more fully formed, gags were punchier (and more numerous) and, as far as this newbie can tell, the pacing worked out too.
The trade off is that I am KNACKERED. I’m a three-meals-a-day person so skipping lunch was not desirable. I certainly wouldn’t advise bringing things this close to the deadline. Pressure or not, the stress will tell on your writing. Your mind may bring you new and exciting adventures in your barely-functioning state but your hands are not going to be able to write/type it down coherently.
Write well. Write early. Give yourself time to both mess up and rectify your work.