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Balance: Work and Family

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newspaperman, May 10, 2011.

  1. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Get back to work, Fredrick.
    studthug12 and Baron Scicluna like this.
  2. A legacy is probably the last thing in the world I'm concerned about. I hate calling attention to myself, to the point that when one of my papers gave everyone their birthday off as a paid day off, I intentionally ate that day every year because I didn't want anyone in the office to know when my birthday was.

    It's also not like I freelance by choice. I freelance by necessity. Despite the claims of a strong economy, I haven't found anyone who's hiring for anything related to writing over the past three years. I make it work because nobody will outwork me.
  3. It's not exactly much of an addiction. I haven't been in sportswriting in six years.
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    The point stands that, unless you want to freelance forever, you need to think about what else you might like to do. Despite yourself, there is probably something. Or, if there really isn't, just try some different things, and see if something sticks, if you, surprisingly, like something more than you ever thought you would, or at least enough that you can move on to another season in life. Because it doesn't sound like you've loving what you're doing now, anyway.

    And also, otherwise, life will pass you by, anyway.
  5. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    I know the feeling. I've been out of full-time journalism for about four years, and every day I feel that tug pulling me back to the world I knew for the best part of 20 years. I wish I had some magic words or brilliant advice to share, but I'm in much the same boat as you (but swap freelancing for academia, and with 100 percent fewer spouses). It's increasingly clear that nothing is going to perfectly replicate the newsroom experience as we know it.

    It would be nice to be able to settle into something that's 'just a job' and provides stability and health insurance while turning that creative energy onto another avenue (writing fiction, reading and writing books, being a journalism/writing tutor, etc.), but some people just aren't wired that way. Like you, I'm guilty of throwing myself wholly into my work to the detriment of other parts of my life. The question then becomes whether there is something -- a particular job or general field -- that can get you, say, 70 to 80 percent there with your spouse, friends, and hobbies making up the remainder. You said yourself that "there's no way back into the business because it's only gotten worse", so continuing to pine for something you know you can't have seems like it will only prolong the pain without providing a solution. What was it about the business that made it such a draw for you -- deadline pressure? Story-telling? Working with language? Being able to entertain and inform? If you can put your finger on that, it might give you more clarity about where to look in the future.

    Finally, I encourage you to speak with a mental health professional about what you're feeling. I say this because I had many the same thought patterns you describe, and sitting down with someone and just talking it through was an immense help. If access is an issue, there are distance counselors who are happy to work with you via text, Skype, or over the phone; if cost is an issue, many counselors and therapists have a sliding scale for fees. Making this kind of life change is a struggle, but it's not a struggle you have to face alone.
    FileNotFound likes this.
  6. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    Seconded. Not having kids affords you a good deal of room for experimentation, especially if your spouse has a steady career and/or income. If you're not going to have a bash now -- when you're still comparatively young and unencumbered -- then when?
  7. Probably never, and I'm good with that. That's just not my personality.

    And I know exactly why I miss it now: I hate the instability that comes with freelancing. When I had a "real job", I didn't miss sportswriting as much because I still had time to write on the side for a few papers because I knew my next paycheck was going to be there. Before, I could say, "OK, I'll call it a day at 5 p.m. today so I can cover this game for $30, and I'll start an hour earlier tomorrow if I have to." Now, I find myself saying, "OK, I could go cover this game for $30, but it'll be at least three hours plus driving time. Or I could take this offer to write a blog on bridesmaid dresses for $60, at half the time, without leaving my couch. I'd love to go do the game, but I need the money. Bridesmaids it is."

    I would love to have a real, full-time writing job. I don't really give a damn what the topic is. Write for a law firm? Happy to do it. Write for a college? Gladly. Write for a septic tank cleaner? What the hell, I'll do that too. The problem that I've found is that everyone and their brother thinks that they can write good copy, so I can't find a full-time job anywhere. So I do this because it's the only way to make the financials work.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Do you do any freelance copy-editing? If not, that might be a way to go. I did that for a while, with a couple of small magazine outfits in my area. One was a local (mostly) textbook publishing company in a nearby city, and one pretty steady, monthly job I had was for a small Christian-themed magazine.

    If there are any really small, local papers -- like, neighborhood ones -- see if they have copy-editing and writing opportunities, and/either of the staff or freelance variety. There's one chain in my area that, against all odds and likelihood, seems to be thriving and has several different local-city editions under its umbrella. They publish weekly and are thrown on people's driveways for free. No idea how it's making do, but it is, and the editions have small local staffs (usually even a couple specifically-sports writers), and I often see house ads in there looking for writers and editors. And the things are pretty substantial -- usually about 20 or 30 tab-size pages a week. They cover all local things and manage to keep their areas pretty well informed, from what I can tell. I've been encouraged several times by my family to respond to those house ads, but I've moved far away enough from journalism (and yes, what they do, and try to do, seems to be real journalism) that, frankly, I'm just not that interested in investing my life in it anymore, at least not beyond some occasional freelance game coverage.

    And your thought that the stability is what you liked, and what you miss, about your sports (or other) writing jobs is not what TrooperBari meant, I don't think. Because, frankly, you can find stability with a lot of jobs (including the one I'm in now, that I'm used to people snickering at or looking down upon), and you don't even have to look that hard for mere stability.

    What drew you to writing/journalism? What do you like/love about it, that could, possibly lead you to other things?

    This is not directly related to writing skills, but my recommendation, which I've made on here before, is to look hard at and apply for many city and county jobs. There are lots of them, they're difficult to get sometimes, but they're usually good jobs, steady jobs, decently paying jobs, and they can open up a lot of doors and career directions, and they usually have good benefits. They're not usually exciting, but there can be some interesting ones, I think, in Social Services, Human Resources, Libraries, etc., and there's all kinds of administrative and office-type stuff to be had. There's lots of competition, and there are tests for all of them. But the interview process is standardized and fair for those who rank in the 95th percentile or better on the tests, so you always get at least an interview if you score well enough on the preliminary vetting.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  9. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Wild reading this eight years later.
    My schedule didn't change. I continued to work a billion hours for the next year after I posted this, then stopped the following fall. Five months later I was let go.
    What happened since then? Another kid and being at home, I got to spend all the time I wanted with them. It was good and bad. The bad was usually around March when I'd get stir crazy, but I kept myself busy.
    Now I'm back in the business and I'm figuring out the balance. It's easier with older kids. In the fall, both will be in school and then I don't know what I'll do with the free time.
    What I am finding is now, vs. eight years ago, is I'm more willing to put family first. Nine years ago we planned our wedding around HS football season and this year we're going to Disney the first week of the season and there's two other Saturday's this fall where I have weddings. Last fall I went to Nashville during soccer championship weekends. My kid's dance rehearsal is the same weekend as playoff stuff.
    Maybe it's because I'm working at a bigger paper where I'm not running the show. Maybe's because I'm older.
    I still want to do the most I possibly can to make my paper better. But I'm more likely to take some time for my family because later, that's going to mean more to me than anything else.
  10. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    That is what I was going for, yes. I'd also second the recommendation to look at government jobs if stability is a high priority. That's the direction I'm leaning, though the particular department I'm targeting is probably the opposite of what NightHawk wants.
  11. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    It's easy. Find a woman who understands the demands of the job and is willing to deal with it. I did, 17 years ago. Still going strong after many failed attempts the previous 10 years.
  12. Slacker

    Slacker Well-Known Member

    How exactly do you get an interview for those government jobs?

    I applied for many back in the day, with a fine resume, and never once got an interview or even a phone call.
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