Thursday I went through my typical routine when I know that I have blog coming up.
I checked the marker board in our newsroom to see what day my next installment was due. As usual, my first thought was, “Hmmmm…. what can I write about?” It’s a question I wrestle with every week and a half or so but, for whatever reason, whenever I actively try to generate ideas, my mind goes blank.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the blogging (and column-writing) portion of my job. Sports writing can be pretty straight-forward sometimes. With day-to-day game coverage, you watch the game, try to pick out something interesting about it and — using that as your angle — tell the story of what happened. Blogging allows us to be a little more creative and inject our own thoughts and ideas into our writing.
The problem, for me anyway, is that I have been working as a journalist for nearly eight years now. My brain has been hard-wired to keep myself and my opinions OUT of the story. Although I have been writing blogs and columns for nearly as long, I still don’t have nearly as much practice at it as I do reporting.
As I’ve said before, as journalists (writers, reporters, ink-stained wretches; whatever you prefer to call us) we tend to be our own harshest critics. For some reason, I find myself being especially critical of myself on blogs and columns. Even when I’m generally happy with the way it turned out, there’s always something I find that I wish I would have said differently, something else I should have included, etc.
Lately, I’ve been making a point to read more columns and blogs. It’s something I did a lot of when I was a wide-eyed 22-year-old fresh out of college, but have done less and less for some reason. I try to read all of our staff blogs here at the Daily Globe and, aside from that, I have primarily read things written for other newspapers or websites.
Over the weekend, I was cruising around on social media and with a few random clicks, I stumbled upon a blog written by one of my best friends. I’ve known this guy since elementary school and have kept in fairly regular contact with him even though we’ve, at times, essentially lived on opposite ends of the country. I had no idea he had a blog.
I was intrigued. He is currently enrolled in the Experience Institute in Chicago. The blog is attached to its website and contains writing about his experiences and what he’s been learning during his time with the institute. I would describe it as a sort of discussion on self-discovery (mostly in regards to careers and the like) while also dispensing some pretty valuable advice. The guy is incredibly smart.
To my knowledge, he had no prior experience in writing aside from the typical assignments in college and high school. I was very impressed by how good his blogging was. Each entry was insightful, thought-provoking and entertaining. I sent him a text message Sunday night telling him I’d been reading his stuff and how much I liked it. He said that blogging, and writing in general, is still a skill he’s working on.
We exchanged messages back-and-forth for a while, first discussing blogs and eventually moving onto other things. But, what I got out of the conversation, is that even someone who, to be honest, surprised me a little bit by his blogging ability, said it was still a work in progress.
My friend isn’t a journalist and blogging is something he really just does on the side. With no background in writing, he has no reason to be critical of himself, yet his ability still isn’t exactly where he’d like to see it.
One of his messages read, “Just takes practice, like anything else” in regards to his own writing. Whether you’re a (somewhat) seasoned journalist or writing for the first time, practice probably won’t make perfect (at least in our own minds.) In this case, I now realize that’s a good thing.