Why do I want to write? A) Because I enjoy it and B) earning a living doing something I enjoy is preferable to a boring office job, isn’t it? But how much do I want it? Am I prepared to compromise on my own voice, my own style, to make a living?
Working with the Restore Rochester Castle committee means I’m going to be sending press releases to various media outlets – I’ve already done one – and I wrote a basic but informative piece, not overlong, which gave them all the relevant information they needed because I know how it works: they’ll re-write it, unless they’re lazy journalists – which isn’t my problem because if they print it as it is I know it’s professionally written, at least in respect of grammar, spelling etc.
However, I’ve resisted the temptation to look at any ‘How-to-write-a-press-release’ gumph, because do I want the Restore campaign to have the same voice as every other campaign out there or do I want them to sound human and individual? But should I be writing to a formula, a pre-ordained format? Isn’t it unprofessional of me not to?
I love writing for Rochester People – the guideline to the publisher role was very much to make it my own, to write however and whatever I feel the local community would want to read. Indeed, what they were looking for was a blogger rather than a trained journalist, for exactly those reasons stated above – a human voice, not a machine churning out the same as everyone else.
Had I managed to land the local reporter role I went for recently, would I have had to adhere to certain rules – rules I imagine that trained journalists learn at college, of which I have no knowledge? Rules that would have ruled out* the digressions I make in the middle of articles sometimes (*did you see what I did there, eh? Did you?) or the *addition of a little aside in asterisks* or #twitterhashtags references – and therefore made my job of writing said article much less fun for me? The media chief who asked for the applications via Twitter made my day by leaving a comment on The Scatter – only for me to find out during the resultant conversation that I’m “a star” but to “carry on what I’m doing” – because “that’s where your talents lie” i.e. not in the reporting of a local court case with little scope for creativity.
To say I was gutted would be true, totally. I am going to check out the ‘how-to-write-a-press-release’ gumph, because writing, any sort of writing, is what I want to do. I want to be challenged by writing about subjects I’m unfamiliar with. I want potential clients to see my complete portfolio and know that I’m someone who can write whatever they want me to write, in any style or form. Simply because, I love writing and I want the freedom to pursue it at a creative level. If formulaic press releases are where I begin, that’s fine with me.