Tuesday, May 5, 2009

30-Day Persistence Challenge: Going from good to great

Following up on yesterday's post on the role of persistence in becoming a great journalist, I wanted to revive this oldie but goodie from the This American Life host Ira Glass. Click and enjoy:

This applies to both writing and to literally what Glass is talking about: Video. For all of us print writers who are learning these new worlds of multimedia storytelling, it's daunting. We kinda know what we're doing with writing (though not always). But video? Podcasting?

To me, these sound fun. I love TV and I love radio. Great storytelling can happen anywhere and in any form. But to learn to do it myself? Aside from the financial investment I need to make in something I'm not sure I'll be good at, it's a different way of thinking.

I'll end by saying that many of us grumble about having to add more skills on. "I'm a print reporter," we growl. "That's what I do."

But again, if we can get our ego out of the way of what we are and what we do, we can open a tiny door that allows us to give our clients what they need, not just what we want to do. And in so doing, we may find new joy in our work, discover a hidden talent, or bring new information back to our writing that improves it.

The keys, it seems to me, are these:

  • Deadlines: Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. We all need them, and if you, like me, are a newspaper-trained reporter, you live by them. If you're just practicing, you need them even more, because no one is paying you for it yet.
  • Support: Just like many of us get help with decluttering or querying, we need people who will hold us accountable for these new creative projects. Bring this issue to your writers groups, to your lunches with other freelancers.
  • Do it again: Once more, with feeling--we need to take that approach to trying these new things. Know you'll fail. Know that each time you try, you learn something new. Take it at your own pace, but progress. Do something.

What creative task could use a shot of persistence this week?

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