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Mar 26 / Joel Cordes

How Bleacher Report can coach up your writing game

I received a compliment from a writer this week that at first I thought was a little back-handed. But thinking about it, I realized it summed up perfectly what we’re trying to accomplish together here:

I believe I’ve gotten better in terms of polished (edited) product, thanks in part to yours and the weekly emails from the assistant editors, no doubt. I do need to create time to review other editors’ notes. But some of the things you guys pound in our heads (or at least mine) become automatic, which is sort of the goal. Like the repeated mechanics of a successful pitcher, for a sports analogy.

Also, it just helps so much to have editing backup. Not depending on it, but that second set of eyes is so valuable.

My reply:

Thanks for the compliment. You’re right, there is a very clear connection to coaching and what we’re trying to do as editors: put our writers in position to succeed, improve their skills and still be who they are. There are certainly a lot of “reps” involved, but the payoff is a winning team and jump-starting successful careers with a crew of really talented writers. Thanks for all the effort you continue to put in on this as well.

Don’t ever sell what you’re doing at Bleacher Report short. (Or let anyone else do that to you either.) This is an experience to hone your skills, open up additional opportunities and get where you want to go as a writer.

The road is long and arduous, and it’s not a cliché to say you might be competing in the most crowded career race out there.

That’s why it’s so important you treat every piece you write as the first and last one a prospective employer may ever read from your byline, the first and last impression your readership will ever have of you, the one piece of sportswriting that will define you as a writer to your editors and peers in posterity. The opportunities to make impressions in this business are a lot more limited (and a lot more critical) than you might think.

On the flip side, while no piece of writing is ever perfect, and it’s certainly okay not to feel satisfied, you can be proud of what you write on a weekly basis, especially as you continue to try to improve.

Again, don’t sell that short. Publicize your accomplishments on social media, among your personal/professional/social circles and certainly to other prospective opportunities, both in sportswriting and elsewhere.

And know that we are ALWAYS in your corner, both at B/R and beyond. We rejoice when you use this experience to succeed.

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Joel Cordes is B/R’s assistant NBA editor. Follow him on Twitter @bball_joel.

  • Michael Dunlap

    From my personal experience, while the constant constructive criticism can get tiresome, its extremely valuable and totally necessary to become a better writer. Without it, I wouldn’t have built the confidence to branch out on my own. Now I cover Phoenix Suns practices and games for my own site. In a roundabout way, I would never have earned those NBA credentials without some “tough love” from the editors here.

    • http://twitter.com/Schottey Michael Schottey

      Having been on both sides of the “tough love” equation, I can say that it truly is “love.” The editors at B/R aren’t some soulless bunch looking for easy reads. They care about young writers and want them to get better and have every opportunity possible.

  • http://twitter.com/CoreyNoles Corey Noles

    Just a tidbit to share regarding the “second set of eyes” comment. I’ve been a working journalist for about the last decade and if there is any one lesson I’ve learned, it’s about the need for a second set of eyes. It was explained to me back in college that when you proof your own work, the brain sees what you meant to say, not what you wrote. In other words, it can completely miss typos. It can also make it more difficult for you to realize when somethings reads clunky because you know where emphasis was intended instead of where it naturally falls. You should always read your work, but I also recommend doing it out loud. That gives you the ability to notice when something is off in style and also helps you catch mistakes that otherwise can easily slip by.

    Just thought I’d share. Good piece, Joel.