Whoever said life is a learning experience (or something like that) was dead on.
Over the last month or so, I’ve had to learn — and relearn — some lessons about how I approach writing, job searching and other demands on my time and effort. Like most people, I have some good results, others not so much. And like most, it’s the latter that teach me the most.
In one case, a regular freelance client asks for two stories a month, but they always seem to be the kind of stories that require more groundwork, research and fact-chasing than I’d like. I’m talking news stories here, and since I always strive to present the most accurate and fair stories possible, I spend more time on the stories.
My favorite types of stories — features or human interest — usually don’t require as much effort, since you’re telling someone’s personal story or talking about an event in their life they want to share. You still have to verify some facts, but you’re mostly going by what you’re told. And the people in these stories rarely have any nefarious intentions by sharing their story so they can be written quicker without sacrificing accuracy or anything else a reader expects.
The more serious news stories often mean you have to track down multiple sides of an issue and be very careful you get the facts straight. In my case, if there’s math involved — as I’ve written before — there are several steps I have to take to make sure numbers add up correctly.
I’m not complaining because I still enjoy them, but the issue comes up for me with these stories because they require more time. I have always thought I juggle my time well. But I was recently reminded I need to pay closer attention. While developing a couple of stories, attending a meeting and interviewing several people, I also prepared for a job interview for a position that would have been a very good match.
In the end, though, I realized I didn’t do as good a job framing my answers in the right way to show how I can help the company solve a problem or improve their product. From all the advice I’ve received and read, that should be how job seekers approach interviews. I knew this very well and thought I would do fine, but the quality of questions was very good and I should have studied and prepared more thoroughly.
So lesson relearned. I vow to pay closer attention to what’s on my table and look closer at what I should be focusing my time and attention upon.
If you have similar experiences to share, please do. We all learn from each other so we can grow and get better. Isn’t that one of the main points of communicating? I know it’s one of the main reasons I write.