Sunday, March 3, 2013

"There is no great writing ..."

Writing a long story can be stressful. It can take a while. Just when you think you're done, there's another question to ask or fact to check. But it's all worth it when you open the newspaper one morning and see your work in print.

It never gets old.
My story about Bryan Moore ran on the front of the Charlotte Observer sports page Sunday. It's the story of a local kid who has made it to one of the top junior hockey leagues in the country. He's the first Charlotte player to do it. The league he's in produces many first round NHL draft picks each year. A teammate he was close to was drafted No. 3 overall last year.

I heard about the story in September. I didn't talk to Bryan for the first time until December. Soon after, I talked to his dad, his mom and a former Charlotte Checkers player that Bryan has known since he was a stick boy for the Charlotte minor league hockey team.

I wrote my first draft sometime after Christmas. I would completely rewrite it at least twice more. I rewrote or rearranged sections many more times.

I talked to Bryan on the phone four different times and asked him other questions via text. I talked to his mom three times. I think I asked the same question about 40 times.

But each new interview and revision made the story better. For that, I have my editors to thank.

To me, this one of the hardest lessons for a writer to learn. In high school and college, I would write a paper or an article at the last second, never look over it and get a good grade. I thought everything I wrote was good the first time around. No need to go back and change anything.

So when an editor tells me to go back and rework an article, it's hard. I feel like I did a bad job. But that's not it. It's part of the process. You write, you edit, write again, revise, rewrite, rework, edit and then, finally, publish.

There's a quote I read that sums it up best. I recently used it in a presentation to high school students interested in journalism. I hope they were listening.

"There is no great writing. Only rewriting."

Read the story on the Observer website here.

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