Finding new feet

Blogging feels strangely different this semester than it has for the last eight months. Honestly, I guess life feels like that right now.

Last semester, my life was jam-packed full of Missourian, Missourian and Missourian. There was always something to write about, a story I was working on, a lesson I was learning. Then this summer, I blew up my personal blog with all the craziness of being a day camp counselor in the Rocky Mountains.

And now, suddenly, life is quiet. I study. I go to class. I go to church. I hang out with friends. I procrastinate by choice instead of because I am just plain out of time. I eat at home instead of perpetually grabbing something on the go. I try to get a normal amount of sleep.

It’s strange. And honestly, it’s a harder adjustment than I thought.

I was talking to Abigail, who reported with me last semester, and I think I finally found some words for it. Right now, I feel like I’m just drifting through school, feeling kind of disconnected from what I’m doing. I’m finding it bizarrely difficult to feel motivated, which is in stark to the rest of the year, where I’ve been doing about a million things at a time.

I’m hoping this starts to pass in the fairly near future. I’ve gotten started on a story I am doing for Vox through my intermediate writing class, and I think that’s starting to give me some momentum and is helping me get back into my usual groove.

Getting back into my groove has definitely been a bit of an adventure so far. My intermediate writing class is putting together a package for Vox about gun culture in Columbia, which, in typical journalistic fashion, is something I know almost nothing about. It’s been kind of cool though, to jump back into things and get thrown into the thick of writing and reporting. It’s definitely going to help me build on what I’ve learned last semester at the Missourian. I’ve made a few phone calls, and it looks like the majority of the story will start coming together next week. I’m actually going to be co-reporting with a couple of other girls in the class, so I’m looking forward to getting to work with other reporters again. Also, it’s nice to be able to call people and tell them I’m a reporter for Vox instead of just a journalism student.

Outside of reporting, my intermediate writing class has been talking a lot about brainstorming story ideas. I’ve actually really enjoyed this conversation, because generally speaking, I don’t feel like it’s an area where I necessarily excel. But this has been quite good for me, because it’s helped me realize that I am far from the only person who wrestles with this. What I took away is that finding ideas can be easy, but finding good ideas is harder. But it’s possible. There are ways to learn to look for things readers will want to see, ways to catch on to what’s important. And it’s not always easy, but it’s definitely a way I can grow.

My editing class spent some time talking about audience engagement, which basically confirmed what I’d started to suspect last semester at the Missourian: it’s harder than it looks. I had to write a brief essay where I picked two stories, identified an audience, and came up with suggestions for how they could get involved in a conversation with the Missourian. And while I came up with some thoughts, I found that it took more time to come up with ways to get readers involved than I expected. And I had to think pretty hard about ways to actually get stories to people who need to read them, and then get them to respond. It definitely requires some creativity, and a lot of knowledge of how people work. It’s intriguing, fascinating, essential. But it’s tough.

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