My comments this morning about the Patch article featuring my graduate adviser and still good friend Rich Hanley has brought yet more encouragement from people to do one thing — write a book. Like I said this morning, I intend one day to write about my experiences at Patch, which would be part of this project.
But I want it to be a bigger piece on local journalism, which I’ve been devoted to most of my career. I’ve worked at a weekly newspaper, daily newspaper and several prominent “hyperlocal” sites (have I mentioned recently I hate that term?). Someone I respect in the industry once told me I have forgotten more about local than most people know because of my work. A book project on local journalism is clearly something I should be doing.
And I’ve been talking about it for awhile, to the point one friend sent this message today when it came up in conversation: “Write the damn book! I would read the shit out of it.” There’s been a lot of cursing in the encouragements today, but isn’t that how we journalists roll?
The problem is the project has never gotten far beyond the “talking about it” and “thinking about it” phase. I’ve tried to outline and figure out my goals and decide who I’d need to talk to. I even started writing one sample chapter at one point. But local journalism has evolved so much in my career and continues to do so. There are so many aspects to it. What exactly do I write about? I can’t seem to collect my thoughts, do a little research and write.
In other words, I am overthinking it.
Like I wrote awhile back, writers need to not think. We need to just write. And I’m not following my own advice. I’m not just writing and getting out the dirty. And I’m not following this great advice I got from one trusted mentor today: “As my old editor used to say, just get the shit on the sheet.”
I need to sit down with this project and write something to figure out my direction. I probably won’t start from the beginning either. But once I do that, perhaps I can figure out a direction and a focus. But as I work through this, and I need to be dedicated to it, I’d love to hear feedback from folks on what exactly they want to read about local journalism. You can post a comment, send me a tweet at @jenconnic or just shoot me an e-mail.