Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

I, Like You, Hate To Write

June 26, 2019

Most writers don’t really like to write. Sure, we wax eloquent about the power of the written word but we also have tons of other things we’d rather do – go hiking, shop for a shirt, or even just alphabetize the pantry. Plus every blank page is a new opportunity for paralysis and failure, so that’s awesome too! So we procrastinate. I do, too. Here are a few tricks I’ve come up with to help me turn delay… into delightful!

  1. Be clear on what the deliverable is, precisely. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer size and magnitude of a topic, but it’s almost always the case that the final deliverable is more limited and focused than you imagined. Be clear on what the client wants then deliver only that (display excess only in the speed and quality of your work).
  2. Break your writing deliverable into smaller bits. If you have 800 words due in a week, set your goal to write 200 words a day for 4 days, then reserve the final three days for editing. That way you’re only panicked about 200 words rather than 800. Big difference.
  3. PROTIP: Writing is re-writing. Don’t try to make it awesome in the first draft – just get something, anything down on paper, with the knowledge that you’ll go back and edit for clarity, brevity, and impact. No one has to see your first draft but yourself, so give yourself permission to be awful.
  4. Make writing pleasant. Choose a time of day to write when you’re most relaxed and productive (for me, it’s early morning while the day is young, the air is cool, and the coffee is fresh); find a place that is quiet and free of distractions; pour yourself a refreshing beverage, open a bag of pretzels or pistachios (if your premium time is later in the day, perhaps even a bracingly bitter IPA); and choose an inspiring Pandora radio station or some other music hosting site.

I don’t ever want to sugarcoat the process of writing and suggest it’s easier than it is. But by applying just a few strategies like these you can overcome inertia and get that writing job done.

ACTION ITEM: Add these new approaches to the mix when writing

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Choose Big Numbers or One Story, But Maybe Not Both

August 30, 2017

Singularity Effect vs. Psychic Numbing. Really interesting Vox article about our collective inability to feel empathy for addressing a problem when the number of characters in the story grows from one to two to 20 million. Make the numbers big and you lose a significant amount of engagement. Choose to communicate data or an anecdote – probably best to avoid trying both.

ACTION ITEM: Can you break your story, such as a use case, down into more relatable numbers, perhaps a personal anecdote told from the perspective of an individual? Or can you offer the solution to a smaller subset of a larger challenge so it seems more relatable – and achievable?

 

Brian Hamilton on Working With Bill Rolland

June 30, 2017

Brian Hamilton, Editor of The Union newspaper (online at www.theunion.com), on the experience of being interviewed by Bill Rolland, especially setting the speaker at ease.

That About Nails It

June 12, 2017

 Coffee last Thursday with documentary filmmaker Mike Bloebaum who used to work with such legends as Irwin Rosten and Nicolas Noxon. Like me, he approaches every project with amazing enthusiasm and devotion – but the moment it’s over it’s completely forgotten, almost like it didn’t happen. Bloebaum says that Noxon called it “temporary enthusiasm”, which is a perfect description of every day of every job I’ve ever done.

A Day At Play in Western Nevada County

June 5, 2017

 I participated in this year’s “A Day At Play” event sponsored by our local newspaper, The Union, in which readers are encouraged to supply photos and videos depicting locals enjoying a day out and about. The final assembled submissions will be printed/posted Saturday July 1. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the photos and 10-second video I submitted:

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When Her Pickup Runs Over Your Dog

May 24, 2017

I’ve never encountered this before, so I really could use some guidance. I have a project coming up soon where the person I’m interviewing on camera may not be completely thrilled about some of the issues we’ll be covering, ranging from the slightly awkward (showing up wearing the same novelty t-shirt) to possibly litigious (her pickup ran over your dog). Any tips or tricks for keeping the speaker on track even when they may not be totally happy about where the conversation’s going?

New Gear I Got, Part The First: Kessler® Second Shooter

May 22, 2017

This is the first of six brief videos showing some of the new gear I’ve acquired since the end of last year; this first one is all about the Kessler Second Shooter device. The video runs a little long (still less than 3 minutes), for which I am deeply and truly sorry, but I’ve made up for it by including an insanely helpful tip at the end about making “Cheat Sheets” for complex equipment you may use only infrequently. Check it.

 

It’s vs. Its

May 11, 2017

Ever not completely sure when to use “it’s” versus “its”? I feel the same way when driving on a one-lane road, going up or down, and someone else pops up ahead. If I’m going up, and I supposed to go back down? Or am I supposed to back up? (spoiler alert: the vehicle facing downhill must yield the right-of-way by backing up until the vehicle going uphill can pass) The trick I use is the one who must back up, backs UP. Get it? Yeah, pretty awesome. Here’s my “its” “it’s” memory device: the word “it’s” is short for “it is” or “it has” – the apostrophe is doing the work of a letter or two. If you’re not replacing one or two letters, you don’t need the apostrophe.


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