I liken The Professional Freelance Journalism Course to tentatively dipping my toes into the unknown cold waters of the writing pool – a little taste of what being a writer would mean to come.
When I look back through some of my course assignments now I realised how far I have come (and how green I was back then). I now have two dozen or so articles published over various topics and media formats and I have also gone on to further writing study.
The course is like most other things in life – ‘the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it’. When I first discovered The Morris Journalism Academy, I was sceptical. My mum contacted the course administrators and she was impressed with the level of professionalism they showed, and she encouraged me to sign up straight away.
Being an old-fashioned type of girl (‘hippy’ my kids say) I chose to receive the course in hard copy form as I tend to fall into the ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ mentality. I loved receiving my package of papers and assignments each fortnight. While the course can all be done online or a combination of both, some writers, like myself, still prefer use pen and paper.
I was encouraged to take as long as l liked to complete the assignments and to ask questions, which I did frequently. My tutor was Carl Hammerschmidt – a real person you can Google to find an impressive career history. The answers I received were thoughtfully targeted, not just a generic reply. At one stage I received some negative feedback from a person I had interviewed for an assignment. Carl was very supportive and motivated me to keep going. In fact, I can’t think of anything negative about the course.
One of the biggest obstacles for new writers is getting started when facing a blank page. The course helps with all this and breaks the process down into easy steps such as research, interviewing, drafting, editing and submitting. Before you know it, you start to think and talk like a journalist. You find yourself seeing stories and ideas everywhere and using terminology like ‘angles’, ‘hook’ and ‘word count’. I was tickled pink when my tutor commented “your article has good legs” – a journalistic term for future angles from the one piece of work.
I wanted to be a writer when I finished school, but my father was against this. He put writers in the same category as artists and believed it nearly impossible to make a living from such work. Unfortunately I stuck to this mentality for 31 years. The Morris Journalism Academy made my dream so much more achievable.