I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a small child, but I’ve never considered myself a writer. Although I have a manuscript of my own rendition of a Mary-Kate and Ashley adventure novel tucked away somewhere in my childhood bedroom, I never had any desire to take a creative writing course at university. While I loved studying English, I was always happier analyzing someone else’s writing rather than my own. I think the main reason for that is I was afraid of the vulnerability that comes with writing, and the idea of putting myself in a critical environment where that vulnerability would be analyzed, critiqued, shaped and molded was just too far out of my comfort zone.
So naturally I’ve decided to go into the oh-so-private industries of journalism and blogging. No seriously, the girl who didn’t want her writing critiqued, grew up and found herself some viable writing outlets (somewhat) within her comfort zone.
And she’s loving it.
I took my first journalism writing course in 2014 and from there it was a natural evolution to writing for my college paper, becoming a blogger for admissions, becoming an editor for the paper, landing myself a summer internship and bam, here I am with a real-world grown-up job in the newspaper industry, while writing as much as I can on the side.
Although the trajectory of my journey may be fairly straightforward, that isn’t to say I haven’t had some ups and downs along the way. For the past year or so (think 2016 to mid 2017) I gradually stopped writing so much and consequently forgot just how much I enjoy it.
It started when my blogging position for the college was eliminated, and although I didn’t take it personally — the whole blogging program was terminated so it’s not like I was fired per se — the amount of writing I was doing decreased. That, along with a combination of the nature of the classes I was taking (predominately academic focused English courses, rather than any practical journalism ones), and the progression of my position at the college newspaper from writer to section editor, all meant that by May 2017 I was barely writing at all.
And I forgot how much I loved it.
As I graduated university and began searching for employment I had to sit down and compile a portfolio. When I did, I realized the majority of my best writing dated back over a year, to a time when I was blogging, taking journalism writing classes and writing — not editing — for the paper.
It was neat to sit down and sift through all my old work, and I love the way my portfolio serves as a time-capsule for my life. While not all the work is blogging or self-reflective content, even the articles I wrote for the newspaper document my life at that time in their own way — whether they draw on memories of a stand-out interview, or a time I worked through a particularly tricky lead, looking at my portfolio offers a glance back into my life. And I think that’s something pretty special writing has given me.
During the summer of 2017, I worked at an internship for a small newspaper at Chautauqua Institution where I was the development reporter. This experience was amazing, and one of the best things I’ve ever done for my writing. If anyone has any inkling of desire to get into the writing business — be it in newspaper, publishing or wherever — then I could not recommend more highly finding yourself an internship to test it out.
Not only did my internship show me this is the industry I want to work in, but it honed my skills and re-invigorated my love for writing. I spent the summer in an environment where my writing was analyzed, critiqued, shaped and molded as I worked with my editor and the copy desk to ensure I was putting out the highest quality product possible. Rather than run away scared, I embraced it.
Over the summer I learned that I enjoy working with editors through the nitty-gritty of a story — be it word-choice, sentence structure or even punctuation. I learned how to really appreciate the value of different words and was shown the importance of understanding the nuance each word in our language holds. I’ve been able to apply this to the editorial work I’ve been doing at my job. Although I’m not currently doing any writing, I’ve definitely noticed an increased attention to syntax in my editing.
Having this blog on the side not only allows me to keep writing, keep documenting my life and keep building that time-capsule, but through the more relaxed nature of blogging it offers me an escape where my writing can follow my own style, not AP’s.
I’m glad I’ve started writing again and I’m looking forward to looking back at this all in 20, 40, 60 years time and thinking “yeah, that was a pretty great adventure.”