This was my desk at the end of the workday Tuesday night.
Tuesday is layout day at the newspaper.
Here’s the basic process:
In the morning, the editor, the other staff writer and I may do a variety of things, including writing stories, checking on stories, making phone calls, etc. Late morning, we have a meeting with the advertising manager and decide how many pages we’ll have in the paper and, generally, what stories will go where.
The big decisions are about what goes on page one and the “second” page one, page three. Sounds confusing, but basically page three has the second-tier stories on it. If you think about opening up a newspaper, your eyes probably go to page three before they hit page two.
Then the other staff writer and I start laying out the pages. The news editor at a sister paper helps with layout, too, and the ad manager lays out the classifieds.
As we finish pages, we print out “proofs,” and the editor and proofreader start reading and marking things that need correction/adding/deleting/changing. If needed, I also read and edit.
Later, when we’ve finished laying out, the other staff writer and I make corrections, turn the pages into PDF files and print them out. The three of us editorial staff proof the pages again.
Then we send the pages to press via the Internet. The actual pressroom is an hour or more from Altavista.
This past Tuesday, we finished up at about 6 p.m. (Sometimes we’re much later if we have something to cover in the evening and then write about it.) I had to stay after to get a head start on updating the newspaper website because I need to be out of the office for part of the day Wednesday to cover a couple of trials.
I do a lot of these activities every Tuesday without even thinking about them. And sometimes—OK, often—I get stressed out. I become tense and anxious before I fully realize what has happened.
I’m trying to be more mindful these days. I did a little experiment Tuesday. I worked through the normal lunchtime wrestling with the layout. At about 3:30, I reached a stopping point and hurried out to grab something to eat. I chose something quick: McDonald’s.
Yes, my eating habits tend to spiral down on Tuesdays.
While I was waiting in the drive-thru line, which really seemed to be taking too long to get through—I realized I was getting uptight and too stressed. So I turned on the radio and put it on WVTF, the public radio station in my area, and listened to classical music.
“Maybe this will calm me down,” I thought.
And it did, a bit. It certainly made my wait a little more pleasant.
Later, back at the office, Larry came by for a few minutes. He was there to pick up something from me, but it was nice just to see his face and laugh a bit with him.
And we got the paper done. We always do.
I’m learning more and more that it’s the little things during the day that can help calm the anxiety and remind me that I don’t want to hurry through the day too fast. It’s the only day I have, after all.
Now I need to work on staying away from the fast food.
What little things do you do to get through the day as easily as possible?
**And a note about Friday. I was going to post last Friday about a special assignment I had for the paper that kept me out until the early morning hours. But the story got delayed a week. So I’ll tell you about it this Friday.