I’ve said quite a bit this semester. Pretty much all of it probably fits into the “I wish I’d known this then” category, and this post is no different. These are things I still haven’t gotten down, even in the last few weeks of this last semester. Like, as I’m writing this, there’s five weeks left in the semester or something drastic-sounding like that and I have 9872892 things to do on a consistent basis because I still do not do these things:
Give yourself time to do good work.
I know I’m the worst procrastinator in the world because my thinking behind it is: Why stop if I keep putting out good work this way? … Why am I like this? What kind of torturous lunatic logic is this? No level of achievement in finesse-manship is worth your sanity. Give yourself time to do good work. Give yourself time to gather sources, befriend people, learn your area or beat. When so much of our work depends on other folks’ time, your best bet is to get the source-searching started as soon as possible. Hit the ground running and start chasing folks from the jump. Even if you don’t start writing right away, it’s way easier to finesse a story when you have all the sourcing and information you need.
Always have more than you need– B-roll AND sourcing.
One thing our instructor for Digital Storytelling drilled into us is that you can never have enough B-roll. You can never have too much extra footage or material to work with and the same counts for writing these stories. It always sucks to get back to the grad newsroom or sit down to write your story and realize you’re missing a specific voice on the issue or that one really good quote that sums everything up.
And, even further, there’s nothing better than being able to go back later and call a source for a current story. In fact, as a bonus point: KEEP ALL YOUR SOURCES AND THEIR CONTACT INFO. And keep them as organized as possible. I wish to God I could go back and be more organized, but here we are.
Recognize that it’s grind time.
I tell anybody who will let me that if they commit to this thing and recognize that as dope as it is, the next eighteen months are going to be DIFFICULT. I had to commit to a whole new environment and way of living when I moved to Chicago for school; that caused me tremendous anxiety. I had to learn a lot on the fly as far as academics and managing fear. As a side note, please get help if you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety, etc. Columbia offers counseling services and can connect you with other things you need.
This has been hard for me financially, as well. I’ve have ALL the part-time jobs. Every single one that exists. But, as long as you can keep some semblance of peace, it’s okay for this time to be all about learning and hard work. You’ll see family and friends doing fun stuff and often feel left out. The FOMO is going to be extra strong at some points, but the eighteen months is worth it. Yeah, you’ll definitely miss out on some things, but you’re putting together a network, a skill set, and a portfolio that’ll put you in the places and on the path you want to be on.
Now that I’m old and can say things like this, I will: if you don’t keep anything else you’ve read from me, keep these three things. When so much of your time is at the mercy of others, you have to do what’s best with yours from the start.