The most formidable deadline I ever faced was in seventh grade. The end of the semester was approaching, and I suddenly realized I had five book reports due the next day. They were supposed to have been done over the previous months, but because there were no specific deadlines, I’d let them slip. The books had been read, but not a word had been written, and, being a serious student, I was appalled by my oversight. So I pulled the first—and only—all-nighter of my life, writing furiously as my family slept, the dark deepening, the house creaking, me cloaked in existential terror. I wrote until four or five in the morning and stumbled to school a few hours later with the five completed reports, so relieved to have gotten them done.
That experience marked me. For the rest of my time at school, I made sure I never came close to missing a deadline—and I carried that habit into my writing life.