Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stretching Your Skill Set

As writers, sure we write. Most days, we write, edit, write, write and then write some more. But as the journalism field changes, it's important to think outside the writing box and develop new skills.

I'm talked about the importance of learning social media before. I still think that's crucial. But the more I think about where we're headed the more I think video is going to be another must for the journalist. Several months ago, one of my clients surprised me with a request to interview a couple sources while being filmed. The video, much to my chagrin, landed on the homepage for an entire day. I avoided the homepage as much as possible.

Truth be told it wasn't so horrible. I supposed it could have been a lot worse. But I couldn't help but think if I had filmed even one YouTube video before that interview, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me.

My goal this week... I plan on spending the rest of the working week and the weekend filming some videos and then figuring out how to splice them, move parts around and get an acceptable final project. To help me laugh at myself and this project I've decided to wear a goofy hat while doing this. At least it will give me a chuckle if all I end up doing is talking into a camera for a couple hours. And then in the future if a client asks am I comfortable with video I can honestly say yes.

What other things are you doing to expand your skill set and make yourself more marketable as a writer and a freelancer?

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Week Without Technology

I spent the last week running a leadership camp in the Midwest for junior high girls. It's a great program, one I look forward to every single year; but the hardest part is leaving civilization for 7 solid days.

The camp grounds sit in the middle of a cell phone dead zone, which means absolutely no ability to use my blackberry to check voicemails, respond to e-mails, or even tweet. Computer internet access? Don't even think about it!

No lie. I needed to push through the first couple days and pretend it didn't bother me that my cell phone claimed to have service but I never saw an e-mail come in. By the middle of the week I craved any kind of news from the outside world. And at the end of the week I rejoiced at the sight of my computer and 4 bars of service. (Good grief something as huge as Michael Jackson's death could have happened last week and I would have totally missed it.)

Now back on the rebound (trying to catch up on sleep and sort through hundreds of e-mails) I find I didn't feel the need to spend as much time on the computer as I did before leaving for camp. Of course I still got my work done. Sure I still spent too much time on facebook and twitter, but I also went out, left my computer behind and didn't frantically check my phone.

Maybe we all need a little respite from technology from time to time. Maybe severing all ties and living 'old school' for a few days can help us become more effective and creative writers. It was difficult, but oh so worth it.

Anybody else leave it all behind for awhile? Did you find any positive outcomes?