I can most aptly explain my experience thus far in journalism school by comparing it to a free-swinging boxer and the relationship with his trainer — constantly an exercise in not letting my hands go.
Before I had even figured out journalism is what I wanted to pursue as a career — after I had tried my hand at history at University of Manitoba, business at University of Winnipeg, and the ever exciting world of being a grocery store employee — I was doing exactly what I’m doing now: writing blog posts. However, back then, the posts were about sports (read: hockey), they were long reads, and they were laced with opinion, statistics, and research I did for no reason other than a love of the game.
Honestly, I tried to rein that in this summer, but I also didn’t write a ton. When I did, I tried to keep it as tight as possible, be mindful of the word count, and try not to throw in paltry details that may have meaning to only myself. I enjoy knowing that my work is getting a bit more readable, that I’m developing a voice through the program, but sometimes I’d really love to just let go, guns ablaze, and write how I used to.
There are some invaluable lessons I’ve learned through the program, that I cannot deny. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that on my way into the program, I was extremely shy, uncertain, and fearful of putting myself out to the public. Now, though, I’m cold-calling, walking up to strange people (what a nightmare that must have been for those who had to encounter me when I hadn’t shaved for months), and finding sources through social media on a regular basis.
While I look up to guys like Bruce Arthur, Stephen Brunt, and Terry Jones — writers who I’ll read nearly anything by — I’m not delusional. I know I may not necessarily be cut from the same cloth, but reading their work inspires me to do what they do. Arthur, especially. That’s why I keep going.
Being an aspiring journalist isn’t the easiest thing. It’s trying. It wears you thin. That is what I have learned. You cannot expect it to all work out all the time. Sources will fall through, stories won’t cooperate, and you’re going to have to write about things you may not exactly be interested in. But part of the experience is making the best of whatever story you’re given.
Sometimes it’s not about swinging wildly and landing a ton of punches, but more about hitting the right spot perfectly.