I haven’t felt like a real writer lately. Like many hacks, I have so far failed to get a job as a reporter and settled for a “meantime job”. Honestly, I have been trying to keep up with the hacks world, write, read and be a savvy journalistic type. But I have to admit it can be very difficult.
Dreams of writing aside, let’s not forget we live in a real world, with real rent and real bills. So taking this job was a no-brainer and I am saving money for a future where I am a reporter. But I am afraid I haven’t been writing as often as I should and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a downward spiral from here on. So if you find yourself trapped in a situation like mine, here are a few tips on how to keep up with the fast-paced journalism world.
1) News, News, News
Watch, read, listen and write the news. When I get home I am absolutely shattered, and I do not want to look at another computer screen ever again. But here’s the thing – you absolutely have to. Although it seems obvious, working full-time leaves you with very little time in the morning and at the end of the day. But there’s nothing worse than meeting up with other hacks and being uniformed. Formally or informally these are your industry contacts and they will help you with your job search if they think highly of you.
2) Argue with everyone
Bring up the news. Talk about the issues. Pick people’s brains. Journalism is about communication, about discovering people and places. Who knows what the next person you talk to will tell you? Stories are everywhere, all you have to do is pay attention. What I’ve found helps a lot is to talk to people then write down my ideas. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go.
3) Guest post, guest post everywhere
You have to make a name for yourself. No, not tomorrow, not later, but right now. Having an audience motivates you to find stories, to find issues you want to talk about. So offer up your free opinion everywhere, there are so many websites that need content from bright, new writers like us. Making friends in the blogging community is also not a bad idea, these contacts will be useful at some point in your life, even if they don’t take you where you want to go right away.
4) Set yourself goals
Do NOT write sporadically. Do NOT tell yourself you’ll write “whenever you can”. Set yourself solid goals, otherwise you’ll get lethargic about your writing, just like me. Even though you’re not being paid for writing right now, you still need a current portfolio to show off in interviews. Keep trying to get stories in your local paper, write in your blog, tweets your opinions – these are all goals you should make for yourself.
5) Be extremely patient (and if possible, positive)
Let’s all be candid here, as great as our meantime job can be we are all at least a little bit disappointed. It’s easy to despair and give up. But don’t. Journalism is a difficult business to get into and we need to be persistent.
Have you been having difficulties keeping up your hack work in the real world? Tweet at us or comment below.
Photo on the homepage by Aaron Brown
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look