Last week we completed the first assessed part of our journalism unit. This compromised of writing a news story for a brief which was provided by our tutor within a set amount of time, which I found to be a daunting and difficult task and had dreaded before stepping in to the classroom. My temptations to edit and re-edit sometimes distort my concept of time when writing, I could spend hours reading over and making changes to things I’ve written, without even really making any kind of development. I think, or at least tell myself, that this slow and sometimes irritating method of working is a result of a lack of confidence in my writing, it comes from a reluctance to commit to ideas and words, wanting to keep them in my head rather than make them permanent by putting them on paper.
After looking for writing tips from journalists on the web, I’ve come across many others who experience the same feelings when it comes to writing. Some suggestions I’ve found include outlining stories in your head rather than plotting them out on paper. I’m definitely guilty of spending almost as much time making notes about things like what I’m going to include in the story and the order I’ll make my points, as I do actually writing it. I think that whilst it is important to plan and organize your thoughts, it is equally as important to get some words down so that you can structure your story as you go.
Another tip I have come across is writing the story in one go from start to finish. You can go back, make changes and add in information once you’ve completed a first draft but I agree with the idea that the story will have a more natural flow and progression if you write it all in one go, rather than starting and coming back to it part way through.
The exercise was certainly useful and interesting as it clearly showed us things like the type of quotes to use in news stories. As all the information we needed for the story was there presented to us, it was just a case of us selecting the most important and relevant details to include. It was interesting to see the importance of the source of a quote, for example; there were some quotes that seemed more relevant to the story or may have given more information but were from a member of the general public, this would have come second to a source from say a local celebrity or someone of particular interest, even if their quote might have less information or relevance.
Overall I think that practice does make perfect or improvements at least, and the more writing you do the easier it becomes. I’m now in the process of working on a story based on Bournemouth’s refugee community and how public sector cuts are effecting them, hopefully with the help of the International Care Network based in Springbourne, story to follow…