On Keeping the Spark


Journalists have the best job in the world, because whenever someone gets boring you can stop paying attention. I’ve never heard an editor say ‘let’s go find something boring to cover today.’

— A sort of quote from Bob Woodward

I happen to still live in the town where I went to university (all of my schooling, actually), so at least once a year I make it back to campus for journalism department events.

There’s an annual gathering known as J Days, with speakers, a banquet and other events, and I usually make it for the featured speaker. To celebrate the department’s 60th birthday this year they brought in Washington Post reporter, author and hero to journalism students everywhere, Bob Woodward. bob woodward

This happens to be the one time of year I miss being in a newsroom, because the speakers always make it sound like so much fun (and it is). As Woodward did in the half-remembered quote above.

He said if aliens came to earth they would decide journalists had the best job for the above reason, and because the job is never boring it’s easy to keep “the spark” that makes the job interesting, fun and rewarding.

A friend of mine who is also no longer in the business lamented afterward that her job doesn’t have that kind of spark, and his talk made her miss the newsroom, too. We know why we left, she said, but we also know why we miss it.

While there certainly are less exciting parts to the journalist’s life (maybe not if you’re Bob Woodward), there are things about it that are a lot of fun, namely variety, not knowing what’s going to happen form one day to the next, having a job that gets you out of the office (at least if you’re a reporter) and being exposed to really interesting people both in and out of the newsroom.

Finding the Spark

Not everyone gets to have an exciting, fulfilling, rewarding job. And even people who have such jobs usually experience their share of drudgery (unless they make enough they can outsource all the boring parts).

But I feel like having some kind of spark — in your job, in your life — is really important. It’s what makes day-to-day life more fun and makes that job worth it even when it isn’t that exciting.

The spark for me, usually, is making stuff. I’m alone most of my days, but creating things, whether with words or actual things, gives me a connection to other people and is never the same from day to day.

But being around people can bring a spark, too, whether it’s going out to lunch with a friend or doing an in-person interview or just going somewhere in public to work and observe.

For people with day jobs or who are at home with kids all day this sort of thing is decidedly harder, but I think it’s part of why I push creativity for everyone: we all need the spark of creation to make life more interesting.

Your spark might be a hobby, a walk after work with a loved one, a weekly coffee date with a friend. Maybe you already have one, but it has been neglected.

What’s your spark? Have you experienced it lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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