You’ve acquired some new skills – so what’s stopping you using them?
Unlikely though it may seem to people outside the business, journalists are creatures of habit.
Admittedly not all of them are good, legal or healthy, but they are habits for all that. And part of the process of acquiring them involves having some form of routine.
The latter is invariably determined by deadlines which serve as the foundations on which every journalist’s working day is built.
A journalist without a deadline
But how do you function in their absence? Since leaving full-time employment with Media Wales I knew there was going to come a point when I had to confront this reality.
Initially it was easy to put off. My redundancy package meant I had the (relative) luxury of treating any lengthy period of unemployment as an extended sabbatical.
So, yes, I’ve done a huge amount of reading for pleasure, maintained a decent social life and generally found ways of keeping myself occupied without having to fret over where the next meal comes from.
Skills development training
In addition I’ve taken the opportunity to improve my skills base. A common theme among colleagues who finished at Media Wales when I did was the realisation of just how industry specific our knowledge and experience was.
Sure, some of it was transferable as part of our fabled communications skills, but in themselves they were ¬- or are – no guarantee of work in today’s ultra-competitive job market.
ReAct funding for the unemployed in Wales
As a consequence I’ve completed a Welsh Government-funded ReAct course which has given me a good grounding in a range of commonly used professional IT skills.
Throw in some help and advice from NUJ Training Wales, for which many thanks, and on paper at least I’m now a much more attractive prospect to potential employers.
Yet, like it or not, it’s surprising how quickly you get out of certain habits. In my case it’s living without deadlines, something which has led to a mini crisis of confidence.
And I need to address it, as a mix of self-doubt and low levels of motivation has left me doing little more than treading water.
It’s time to start putting my new skills to good use, alongside the old familiar ones. I have some ideas, but in the first instance I’m going to pursue some voluntary work, something I’ve thought about for a while and may actually provide the inspiration I’m looking for.