A Matter of Time…

It’s been nearly two months, and staring at a blank page feels… weird.

It shouldn’t be. The fear of the blank page has kind of faded away as I write essay after essay after essay and then a 10,000 word dissertation on top. Yet, I imagine that the feeling of disconnect has come around as a result of my rather lengthy absence from blogging, with the last post being published on 13 April. Sorry about that.

Photo: Pixabay.

Although, on the topic of dissertations, I now face a particular dilemma when it comes to my writing. Three years of academic coursework has programmed my brain somewhat into writing – and reading – non-fiction. It’s either factual journalism, or a detailed essay. The former (if it’s broadcast journalism), allows for some creativity, but for the most part, it’s quotations, analysis and formulaic structures. Big academic subjects have drawn me to books on post-truth, politics and media law. Whilst they have all been fascinating, I fear that getting back into reading and writing fiction will take a very long time indeed.

Yesterday night saw me meet up with fellow writers (both of fiction and non-fiction) and I remember explaining to them that the creative spark – the one where a random character or story idea just pops into your head – has just… gone.

At the end of the evening, I reached this conclusion that this balance between being able to write both journalistic articles and works of fiction would be struck at some point in the future. It would just be a matter of time – and time is something I have a lot of at the moment.

After all, I’ve pretty much finished university now. I mean, I have one shorthand exam towards the end of June (which is external and not to do with coursework) followed by some work experience and then that it me finished at Lincoln until September, when I graduate in a cathedral, which is pretty cool.

Until then (and indeed afterwards), I have a period of time on my hands – ‘free time’, you could say. With no more assignments to complete or any additional commitments to honour, I’m faced with the same freedom I faced at the end of previous academic years, except this feeling is more permanent.

Now comes the job search and an empty diary to be filled with opportunities, job interviews and networking events.

I started writing this questioning whether ‘A Matter of Time’ was the right title for this piece, but now I realise that the phrase is one which I have heard a lot of recently, and it is the perfect way to describe the position in which I find myself.

At the start of my degree in Lincoln, I was told it would only be ‘a matter of time’ before I find myself at the end of my three years, ready to graduate. It’ll hopefully only be ‘a matter of time’ before my love and inspiration for writing fiction returns. It’s only ‘a matter of time’ before I get my first job after graduating…

If the next steps of my life post-education all come down to ‘a matter of time’, then I’m not waiting around.

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Thoughts on Freshers Week 2017

A calendar is pinned up on my noticeboard and once again, a strict routine returns to my life. Dissertation deadlines and exam dates have been added, and I’m back in the mindset which sees me look ahead and soldier on. Although, that hasn’t stopped me from taking a step back this week, as Freshers Week at the University of Lincoln got underway.

In full, the week saw me see Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark, Lethal Bizzle – which was an interesting experience for someone who doesn’t like that music at all – and Pendulum (although two of the main three DJs, such as Rob Swire, weren’t present). There were also two of the main club nights in Lincoln – QUACK! and Superbull – as well as a quiz, which we took the cash gamble and lost. Damn.

Other than that, with lessons starting next week, the past seven days have seen me be stuck in some sort of limbo. Aside from working on my radio show yesterday and going to my course’s Welcome Talk for this year, having a week to wait for things to pick up again did make me feel somewhat lazy. I was able to get other things on my to-do list done, but not as much as I would have liked. Annoyingly, I know that I’ll have the motivation to get other things outside of my coursework done – in my spare time, of course – once my course starts again properly tomorrow.

Tonight will hopefully see me take part in my last Freshers Week activity (a ‘rock and roll bingo’) before my Court Reporting and Political Journalism sessions.

The fun starts tomorrow…

Exciting Existentialism

Life is a pretty random thing. So much so, that we have meta-narratives such as science and religion to help us understand it all. There’s a variety of ‘paths’ we can follow in life, and in the world of UK education, it can certainly feel a little streamlined – that is, until you enter your third and final year at university.

I will miss this view come August 2018, when I graduate.

Up until that moment, everything is pretty straight-forward for most people: primary and secondary school (or alternative versions of this system), Sixth Form and then university. Of course, there are people who do apprenticeships or college, but for the most part, this is the usual route which most people take. For a lot of people, going to another county and getting that all-important degree is their end goal, so what next after that?

During the lengthy summer break, the questions got more frequent: what do you plan to do next after university? Will you stay and do a Masters? Granted, there are options, but at this moment, everything feels much more unrestrained. To refer back to the aforementioned ‘end goal’, I’ve got there and am soon to complete it, so what next?

Such thoughts unearth a bubbling existential crisis inside me. As someone that’s always liked structure and whose iPhone calendar is the main way they organise their life, having to accept the fact that come May 2018, the slate is blank is a little terrifying. It was a dread I felt last month when people asked me if I was going to the next Summer in the City convention next year. Taking place around the time of my graduation, I simply had to say that I had no idea, and not knowing my availability is as frustrating as it is alarming.

So, as I’ve now settled in to my university flat, I approach my third and final year of university with excited existentialism. This academic year sees me work hard on a 10K word dissertation (the subject of which I am genuinely interested in), produce extensive amounts of radio work, and work as the editor of the university’s student newspaper, The Linc. I’m looking forward to it, whilst knowing that time will indeed fly by.

Let’s get started…

A Thousand Words: Is it bad to live a structured life?

It’s a question I thought about in the early hours of this morning: is it bad to live a structured life? I pondered it whilst reminding myself of the many tasks on my to-do list (see the picture below), and how much of my life is typed, written or stored in to-do lists, calendars and email folders like the one below.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is not to say that I can’t handle spontaneity – the career I hope to enter is not always predictable. However, whilst I like to consider myself a very organised person, it seems as though confining myself to daily or weekly tasks only speeds up the passage of time. It’s as I write this that I ask myself if I need to be more spontaneous. How are we in August already?

After reading this, one could argue that I’m stuck in the present. Yet, that isn’t really the case. At the moment, I’m looking forward to attending Summer in the City this time next week and seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child the week after that. I also know that come the end of August, I need to start planning for university and that I’ll be going to the NUS Student Media Summit in London. It’s almost as if I’m going through the year, with little checklists along the way.

Now, I know I’ve most likely written about this before (albeit in a different way) but now begins the process of getting the final tasks done before it’s back to university in September.

There’s always something to look forward to.

In Development…

This week has been one of progression. It started earlier this week with me making a return to public speaking. The last time I had to give a presentation to someone, it was in May last year, when I went to Leeds to give a presentation about myself and my time as a member of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Youth Advisory Board. Although reading a book by TED’s Chris Anderson provided me with some reassurance, I was still fairly new to the experience.

The presentation still went really well and it was great talking to the young people there, but I had certainly improved when I gave a talk to Central Bedfordshire Council’s Youth Voice on Tuesday this week.

It was a talk on social media, fake news and campaigning, and I was quite flattered that I was asked to chat about the subject (after all, I hardly see myself as an expert on these). Despite that, as I worked my way through the presentation slides, I could sense my own confidence and was able to talk at great length about the three issues. I suppose on this occasion, I was able to chat more about Twitter than I was about myself – but I think that came down to preparing the presentation in advance.

Overall, it was a great experience, the conference itself was great fun, and I even walked away with a greater idea about what my dissertation for next year, too.

It was also on that day that I was offered the role of Editor at the University of Lincoln’s student newspaper, The Linc. After spending the past year as News Editor at the paper, it’s an honour to take the next step up and accept the offer. I look forward to working with a great team next year.

Speaking of third year, it’s as my second year comes to a close that once again, I reflect on what my university experience so far has given me. Already, I have done amazing things with the community radio station in Lincoln and the student newspaper. I’ve applied the skills I’ve learned (such as shorthand, learning about politics and making FOI requests) outside of university and they have given me new opportunities as well.

As my final year approaches, there’s no doubt at all that it was the right decision, but I continue to be amazed at just how quickly time flies.

2016: A Reflection

I feel as though I have to apologise for the rather bland title of this post, but with 2016 being an eventful year – both in terms of current affairs and on a personal level – it’s hard for me to summarise the past 12 months in a small number of words. For me, it’s been another incredible year. Of course, it’s had its hiccups but that’s just a small part of the bigger picture. 2016 was a year of opportunity.

Photo: Jorgen Kesseler on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.
Photo: Jorgen Kesseler on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/.

I met so many people, whether it was fellow bloggers VickyMaeve or Dee, YouTubers at Summer in the City, a famous musician at the top of The Shard or through something else. Interacting and communicating with new and exciting people – be it online and offline – is always brilliant and I have no doubt that will continue in 2017.

Other than that, it’s a year which can be described as being a constant chain of exciting opportunities. Work experience at so many different and interesting organisations helped me secure the next placement and so on. Presenting a show on Siren FM enabled me to meet and interview so many people. Then, simply seeing and responding to a tweet on social media allowed me to do even more amazing things. I was able to explore new places and have interesting conversations with everybody I came across. Both of these things happen when working in the world of journalism too – it’s one of the main reasons for why I want to enter the profession.

Speaking of which, 2016 also saw me end my first year and begin my second year as a journalism student at the University of Lincoln. It’s a transition which prompts comparison. The second semester of first year in 2016 saw me make new friends and gave me so many new opportunities. As I entered my second year in September, I had even more amazing experiences to look forward to – from being the News Editor at the student newspaper, to being a part of Siren FM’s new Breakfast Show team.

There’s no doubt that I met new people this year, which is a good thing since it was one of my new year’s resolutions for 2016. However, as for ‘finishing writing a book’, with university demanding so much of my time, that has had to be put on hold. I’m hoping that the summer break of 2017 will provide me with some time to write something, but it seems as though I won’t be flexing my creative writing muscles anytime soon, sadly.

As for my new year’s resolutions for 2017, I’ve realised that I need to stop setting myself goals which are too ambiguous and easy to accomplish. Whilst ‘take more photos’ may be another resolution which is easy for me to achieve, it’s certainly something I need to do more of. A year which saw me work on YouTube videos and rediscover my love of photography has reminded me just how much fun it is to capture moments in photographic or video form. Other than that, I can’t think of any other resolutions for the moment. However, I imagine that I will have some more ideas as 2017 develops.

With regards to my blog, turning The Life of a Thinker into a more professional website was the right decision to take this year. My Friday Articles were no longer embarrassing, self-centred posts but were instead thoughtful and analytical commentaries on current affairs. I wanted this blog to allow me to practice my journalism, and writing about politics every week certainly helped with that. On top of this, some exciting PR emails, having one of my posts ‘highly commended’ at an awards ceremony and reaching 16k views in 2016 alone (up by 5k from last year) made 2016 a fantastic year for my blog. Thank you for stopping by and reading my posts this year. I wish you a Happy New Year and a great 2017.

The Second Year: Flats, Radio and Newspapers

Tonight, I shall be back in Lincoln, ready to start my second year at university. My first year – although it had its ups and downs – led to me making friends for life. I miss them, I miss the beautiful city, and I miss the adrenaline and excitement that comes with studying a journalism degree.


I mentioned this in a recent blog post, but I have a lot to look forward to this year. I become a course representative for my journalism course, start work as the News Editor at the student newspaper and return to hosting my radio show on Siren FM – which I love doing.
There’s that, plus the fact that I’ll be aiming to pass my NCTJ 100wpm shorthand exam. It’s the final exam I need to do and I know it’s going to be hard, but I can’t wait to start working towards it.

The other thing is that I have my own space now. Last year I learned that living in a group flat in student accommodation wasn’t really my thing, and that I still wasn’t ready to move into a house just yet. This year, I’ll be living in a studio, and I cannot wait.

Then again, I know that second year will be busier than last year. This time, the grades count. However, I’ve chosen to study radio, online and ethics amongst the compulsory modules – topics I’m interested in and will enjoy, so whilst it’ll be a challenge, I’ll love every second.

Lastly, I have to talk about Freshers’ Week, which starts tonight. Example, Scouting for Girls and Matt Willis (from Busted) are all playing across the seven days, so it’s fair to say that my Students’ Union did an excellent job with bookings this year. You can read my review of the week in next Sunday’s post. 

Are you off to university this month? What are you looking forward to in this academic year? Who’s playing at your Freshers’ Week? Comment below!

Liam