Years ago, I was a journalist for a local entertainment newspaper. It was always about getting the story and whatever article I wrote had to be backed up with credible information. You also needed an eye to take that right photo.
Ironically, I never went to school for journalism. I was thrown into the deep end of the journalism pool and had to either sink or swim. Sometimes hands-on is the best teacher; if you have a basic template by which to go.
A journalist is defined as a person who writes for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or prepares news to be broadcast. A writer is defined as a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.”the distinguished travel writer Freya Stark“ or a person who writes in a specified way.”Dickens was a prolific writer.”
I am beginning to see that writing has, somewhat, the same methodology. All writers have to find an interesting source—a character, a historical event, an idea or a specific niche; which enables them to tell the story. If the writing is non-fictional, the writer has to insure their information is credible by corroborating research.
Both have some common grounds: A journalist has many tasks, but those that are akin to a writer are:
- Researching Articles
- Writing, editing and submitting copy
- Proofreading and verifying statements and facts
Ryan Holiday writes, “If you want to be able to make a compelling case for something — whether it’s in a book, on a blog, or in a multi-million dollar VC pitch — you need stories that frame your arguments, rich anecdotes to compliment tangible examples, and impressive data so you can empirically crush counter arguments.”
On writing…“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
On editing…“When you write a story, you are telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are NOT the story…Your stuff starts out being just for you…but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right, as right as you can…it belongs to anyone who wants to read it, or criticise it.” — Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On submitting manuscript… J.K. Rowling sent her finished manuscript to 12 different publishers only to be rejected by them all. A Bloomsbury editor finally picked up the book for an advance of just £1,500. Her editor suggested she get a teaching job as it was unlikely that she would earn a living from writing children’s books. The book went on to become one of the best-selling series in history with over 450 million copies purchased world-wide. Says Rowling, ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.’“
For both journalist and writer proofreading and verifying statements and facts come along with the territory.
Both journalist and writer would prefer being understood rather than adored. They do not write for nitpicking readers, but for the curious ones with opened minds. And some will even admit they write for self-gratification to prove to themselves it can be done. In writing, you also need an eye, to see into the soul of your imagination and creative cauldron.
In either case, all of these ingredients are what it takes to make the story because they’re in the story. Without them there is no story to tell.
*Definitions from Oxford Languages.
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