What is it that makes a great writer? And how many times does a journalist write a single note? Those were some of the Middle School students’ questions last February 17, when they gathered in a Zoom meeting to hear what the Washington Post's correspondent for Mexico and Central America, Mary Beth Sheridan, had to share.
Mary Beth addressed over 350 attendants who learned a lot from a woman with a wide background, including covering Iraq’s war, chatting with Hillary Clinton, watching Cubans trying to escape to Miami in 1994, and reporting on Ebola’s pandemic. She eagerly shared her main tips on how to become a writer without fear nor limits.
Many of the students seemed curious about her feeling overwhelmed, afraid or sad during the events, and although Mary Beth admitted that that is a common state of being, she also said that being a journalist meant having to make a choice between letting your emotions drown you or keeping in mind that without you no one will be informed about situation.
Students also asked how to avoid writer’s block, which Sheridan seems to be familiar with. She advised them to start writing and put out words, and then deal with the final product as time allows them to. The key is to get things going.
Sheridan made sure to emphasize that to be a great writer you have to want it and work for it; no one is going to make sure that you succeed but by reading your work aloud and rewriting it as many times as you think it needs to be rewritten, then she can assure you that your piece will be valuable.
Without a doubt, as many students pointed out, deciding what to write about is the hardest part; despite this, Sheridan believes that writing tricks are learned along the way and it is a matter of determining to plunge into a specific story and the rest will flow harmoniously.
Mary Beth Sheridan focuses on her experience and professionalism to understand that the world needs to hear about these events. Without journalists that are determined to communicate what is going on around the world or even choosing to write keenness, people would not be able to stay cultured.