It has been a difficult five months for me as I transitioned from a world of daily reporting to a world of, well, no reporting.
My new job does not afford me many opportunities for report. A lot of my other journalism-related skills are put into play since my role is more of an editor, but I’m not reporting.
Reporting was and is one of my favorite things about journalism. Asking questions, meeting and talking to interesting people, learning new things and, eventually, uncovering the truth behind a story. I liked writing the stories too — and I came to take pride in my skill for writing since so few reporters can both report and write well, especially as quickly as I can — but reporting was always my favorite part of my job.
So I enter a world where I don’t have the opportunity to report. Now I’m suffering an identity crisis of sorts.
The definition of who I am for my entire adult life was “reporter.” Sure, there were other things important in my life — like my work with my youth group — but the one thing that defined me was reporting and writing.
So now I ask who I am, and the identity crisis is filtering into all of my writing work. I sit at a screen and stare, sometimes for hours. I’m not quite sure what I should be writing. Fiction? Essays? Freelance articles? And I don’t feel sharp when I do write.
I’m suffering writers block, and it’s not just a “I don’t feel inspired” thing. It’s a state of confusion over who I am as a writer.
Inspiration is an issue in some ways. I found inspiration for writing — whether it was non-fiction, fiction or poetry — from my little journalism world. I met so many interesting people it was hard not to fashion characters from those experiences. Those experiences helped mold essays.
Most importantly, I wrote every day. I wrote probably more than most writers struggle to do in a day. Some days I was writing four or five stories, and those could be up to 1,000 words each. How many writers can say they wrote 2,500 to 5,000 words every day? In just my daily reporting duties, I was probably completing the NaNoWriMo requirements every month (and I am still stuck at about 3,000 words for NaNo, if you’re keeping track).
So even when I hit the keyboard for something that wasn’t required for my job, I was fresh as a writer with a data bank of information and ideas stored in my head.
And if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo this month, I probably would have never figured out these issues with myself as a writer. Now I can face them, figure out a game plan and overcome them. It’s just a matter of asking the question that we rarely ask as reporters: “How?”
I’m sure once I figure myself out, there will be a flood coming from my fingers. I have ideas. It’s just a matter of getting them from my head onto the page.