On the Fourth of July, cherubs ate hot dogs at Mustard’s Last Stand, watched the parade and sat by the Lakefill as fireworks burst over the water. They also wrote a 500-word color story requiring at least three interviews and two photos. They had to conduct interviews, take photos and complete the assignment in eight hours.
“It was challenging,” said Lauren Balser of South Riding, Virginia. “Considering we hadn’t done that much yet, it was a very good way for them to shove us into the deadline world.”
From the one-hour turnaround on the meeting coverage to the week-long trend story, cherubs faced deadlines of all lengths and difficulties over the summer.
Aden Morvice of Geneva, Illinois, said the Fourth of July story had the toughest deadline, calling it a “nightmare in the truest sense.”
“I had to run everywhere that day,” Morvice said. “I spent too long trying to get interviews, and then I had to hustle back to dinner. Then I had about an hour and a half to write and edit all while I was sweating through my shirt.”
Danielle Bennett of Roseville, California, said the feature story, which had a two-day deadline, was the hardest for her to finish on time.
For the feature, cherubs had to find a unique and timely angle on something in Evanston. Bennett wrote about the city becoming a Natural Wildlife Community Habitat, but finding an idea challenged her.
“I didn’t come up with my idea until day two,” she said. “I had one day to contact all my sources, get responses and then start writing. I had an interview a good hour and a half before the deadline, and then I had an hour and a half to structure and write the story.”
Cherubs had to find time to work between lectures, workshops, time with friends, sleep and meals. Sometimes, they had to forfeit free time — or mealtime — to work.
“Do your work when you need to,” Balser said. “If that means skipping a meal, that’s fine. Just make sure you eat afterward. I didn’t do that trend week.”
Cherubs also learned from their deadlines. Bennett said they taught her to stop overthinking every detail of her writing and just write, even if the product fell short of perfect.
Balser agreed. She said the first and most valuable lesson she learned was that perfectionism hindered her ability to turn in work on time.
Ava Seccuro of Beverly Hills, California, said the deadlines taught her to avoid wasting words. She added that she found she could write faster than she thought she could.
“After all we’ve done, I realized I can write a 300-word story in 20 minutes if I need to,” she said. “That’s helpful.”
Morvice said he learned to stop complaining about deadlines. He added that deadlines at cherubs taught him the importance of collaboration.
“The biggest thing is to help each other because you’re all trying to do stories,” Morvice said. “Be there for each other, and help each other with deadlines. You’re all going through the same stuff. It’s going to be hard, but you all can do it.”