I first started writing about sports in January 2015. While I am a writer, my writing to that point had been limited to fiction novels (got four published!) and the occasional blog post about writing or cooking. I hadn’t written anything geared toward the general public for a website in quite some time.
Like a lot of writers in nontraditional media (which pretty much includes every site or blog that is not owned by a newspaper or TV channel), I started writing for free. That worked for me because I had never written about sports and I wanted to make sure that whenever someone decided to pay for my sports writing, they would find it worthy.
I used those free articles to springboard to a paid position (shoutout to Hoops Habit, where I mainly covered the San Antonio Spurs). I got some shine, got some cash (always a bonus), got noticed by some national publications, got Twitter follows by a couple of NBA players and favorite sports writers (*fangirl swoon*), guested on a radio show talking about last year’s NBA finals (listen for me around the 6:45 mark!).
My (re)posts on Medium are still getting hits to this day (and I see some of them practically copied word for word on some sites. I know who you are, and you’ve already heard from my attorneys).
Writing in the age of new media is very different. I grew up in the old-school media model of dense, longform articles that are thoroughly researched and grammatically correct–without pictures. Intro, main premise, supporting evidence, conclusion — basic essay structure.
(which is probably not even taught in schools anymore, along with cursive writing. I blame Common Core.)
New media is all about seconds-long attention spans and writing that corresponds thusly, which usually translates to lots of video, slide shows, and pictures, and less words.
New media also reflects the 24-hour news cycle that is the demon love child of social media and smartphones. As a result, writing these days is more about getting the hits moreso than putting out a longer, quality work. I’ve been fortunate to write for sites that were sticklers for editing, research, and quality content, despite the shorter article lengths (everyone ain’t able), but the hustle is real in these new media streets. It’s all about SEO and media shares.
Especially in sports media, where there are fiddy-‘leven (as we say in the South) other sites ready to break the story that you overlooked or haven’t yet discovered–and that’s on top of mainstream sports media stalwarts ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports, MSNBC Sports, sports sections of newspapers, and the like.
In an era where anyone can create a free blog in less than five minutes, there is a proliferation of sources that can baffle even the most die-hard sports fan.
There is pressure to post better, faster, more–but mainly faster and more.
And I got tired.
I also write human interest stories (non-sports) for another site. Between that, the sports writing, and my own personal writing (such as co-editing a science fiction newsletter and working on novel #5, which is about a year overdue now), I burned out.
(keep in mind that I had been writing in new media for almost two years now).
I literally could not create an article. I would open up a document, or the article template page for one of the sites, and just stare at it. By the middle of National Novel Writing Month (which I’ve “won” twice in a row) in November, I just ran out of gas (at 30,000 words. *sigh*). I could barely look at my novel-in-progress.
I lost my joy for writing about sports, or anything else.
At the behest of one of my editors, I took the remainder of 2016 off.
And I did absolutely nothing on the writing front. I did a lot of reading (which included the books upon which Shutter Island, Angel Heart, and the sci-fi TV show The Expanse were based –which meant I had to go back and re-watch them. Shutter Island and Falling Angel were as good as the movies, while Leviathan Wakes was better than The Expanse.
I taught some cooking classes.
I made Christmas dinner and homemade eggnog (spiked, of course).
And it was great.
I finally thought that I might be ready to get back to writing when I woke up last week at 2 am one morning, and jotted down notes about a sports article that had been percolating in my head.
Today, I wrote my first sports post in months (and the Basketball Gods must have gotten my thoughts to the Hawks, because Paul Millsap is staying!). I even started this blog, since I no longer write sports for any formal outfit.
I must say, it was fun. And that’s the whole point.
So I will continue to write about sports (even though I’m no longer getting paid for it–for now) on my own time, and in my own way–full of snark, side-eyes, and memes, and unfiltered (can I get a cuss button like Kevin Garnett?).
And fun. Can’t forget that.
One day I hope to get on David Aldridge’s level, with my own weekly column. In the meantime, there’s this blog.
Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for stopping by.