Challenge Journal 4: Missed opportunity?

My biggest missed opportunity as a result of a lack of time and experience probably was most of my pieces I wrote for the sports and opinion sections in the Michigan Daily. One stands out to me the most — it was a feature article on a track runner that was in law school and almost made the NFL who just broke a Michigan track record: https://www.michigandaily.com/sports/meet-john-spooney-michigans-davinci

I wrote this my freshman year and I think it was good at the time but looking back on it now, there was a lot more reporting, time, and effort I could have put into this like I could’ve done so much better with this lede:

“He was a two-sport athlete at Brown, but that time has long since passed.

Now he is an aspiring medical school student. He was once good enough for a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens. He has just run the fourth-fastest 60-meter time in school history in his first race as a Wolverine. And he has come a long way from a childhood near Jacksonville, Florida.

Meet John Spooney, the renaissance man.”

I think a lot of work I did for the Daily wasn’t as good as I think it could have been due to a lack of time, desire to make it exceptional, and honestly, running out of ideas. It helps a lot in my writing not to have a specific writing block each day or deadlines in which I need to get things done. Then it feels monotonous and forceful, though it is necessary. I have found that as I have gotten older that I do most of my writing by thinking inadvertently when engaging with people and art in the world. I’ll then write down some snippets and let everything come together in a free-flowing way. It’s weird but I write a lot more when I’m given time to think about it and let the words kick into overdrive. It’s also very helpful to not have any expectations of topic, form, or style, at least initially. Right now in doing poetry, I can talk about whatever I want in this method that feels like freedom. With the Daily, I chose to stay with one sport which constrained what I was able to talk about. And in writing columns, I felt that I had to write a certain way that I had to free the world of its evils and be an authority. It was like I was putting on a persona that wasn’t really me. It was awkward and concrete. I wish that I would’ve been a better writer in those moments but I need to understand that doing this messy and what I deem now as unsatisfactory writing got me to where I am today. And I’ll look back on what I’m writing now in a couple years and probably hate it. I’m trying to approach writing as “whatever I’m feeling at the moment.” Soon I’ll change the topic of what I’m writing about now but I’m not sure when. Though sometimes not having a structure or a change of pace can keep me in the same ruts. And I’m running the risk of my current writing not making sense to the audience or even having the writing to be plain bad. I must write but also accept structure and criticism. I wish I would have sought that out more with the Daily as my displeasure with my work was my own fault. Hindsight is 20/20.

One thought to “Challenge Journal 4: Missed opportunity?”

  1. Chris,

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Your points about struggling to find your writing voice as well as well as not being able to make your writing as solidified due to a lack of time really resonated with my undergraduate experience and time in the minor.

    First, finding my writing voice is something that I had really struggled with throughout high school and even in my English 125 course. I wanted to come across in a professional way, yet seem genuine to allow my writers to relate to what I wrote about. My experience in the gateway course, and meetings with T Hetzel, allowed me to feel comfortable when I wrote, making each piece flow much more smoothly. I ended up writing a large piece in the gateway about finding my writing voice and how important that was to me.

    You mentioned struggling with this as an underclassman. Have you found a way to enhance, or feel more comfortable with your writing voice since? If so, what types of things have helped you?

    Additionally, I am so glad you mentioned the time aspect of being an undergraduate student and working, in your case with the Daily. One of the most difficult things I have realized in college is that I unfortunately can not devote as much time to each project I do as I would like to. This includes essays, projects, and even professional work that I do on campus. I am the type of person who is almost a perfectionist, I want to do my absolute best in everything I do, yet because I may not have the time for some projects, this simply isn’t possible This was a difficult learning curve for me, but an extememly important one. I am so glad you mentioned this.
    Again, I really enjoyed reading this blog and it is great to see how you have developed as a writer since your Freshman year at the Daily.
    Louis

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