Friday, May 16, 2008

Not for the faint of heart

So you want to be a writer, and you think a small daily or good-size weekly is your best foot in the door?

Be prepared to swing two bats.

If this was baseball, practicing swinging two bats would put power in your swing. Same goes for writing. Disciplining yourself to crank out copy, and lots of it, will get you ready for the Big Leagues.

But it's not for the faint of heart. If you want a 39.5 hour work week, unless you're very efficient, you may be barking up the wrong tree. People don't want to hear this. "I'd do anything to get a shot at writing," I hear writers say. But the concept of giving it 110 percent is too daunting for some.

When I took my first job in print, I begged for it. I told my editor I would write anything, even obits. Without being asked, I wrote my heart out. I put myself on a rigorous training program of swinging two bats, frequently turning in two or even three stories a day while many around me slacked off because they could.

I learned how to crank out good copy, copious amounts of it, fast. Those three things you can never find together - quality, speed, quantity (or price) - I learned how to deliver. I'm not saying all my stuff was perfect.

The other thing people complain about when cranking out copy is not having time to network and develop sources.

I admit to using my own personal time to do a lot of things in the community, thus developing those sources. For some people, that's unacceptable infringement of work into personal life. For those people, I don't recommend community newspapering in a setting where resources are limited.

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