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  • Janae McKenzie

Writing quickly when your brain can’t keep up

General Assignment day shifts at the Missourian can be pretty fast-paced. Often it involves waiting until something comes along for you to cover - a brief, crime or some breaking news. There can be moments of downtime between assignments, but you have to be ready to roll for when they do occur.


I usually get a rush from this fast-paced writing. I love the adrenaline of getting out a quick brief and try to have fun with it, fact-checking to my playlist affectionately named “Crunch Time”. However, with my most recent GA shift, I found myself lacking in that kind of fire.


Something that fascinates me, and I certainly want to write more about in the future, is how journalists with mental illnesses or other psychological struggles do their jobs. I’m someone who struggles with depressive episodes and panic attacks, and the funny thing about both of them is they rarely arrive at convenient times. I love giving my all to my work and feel I’m not doing it right if I’m not working down to the bones (blame my perfectionist roots).


I was struggling through one of those episodes with my latest shift, and I felt a tad disturbed by how it affected my productivity. That speed that I’d come to enjoy was nearly ground to a halt. While I understood the task demanded expedience (we were already a tad behind the ball with this particular brief), my brain just couldn’t seem to keep up. I was able to complete it, but I know I could’ve been faster.


I wonder if other journalists struggle with this. If so, how do they cope?


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