As you may know from certain previous postings, I credit my journalism experience as a real turning point in my career. The main thing I got from it was focus and precision.
Previously to this, I would start a "short" story and use up about three pages describing a character's typical day, how they got home from work, what they liked to cook, what sort of slippers they wore and their favourite TV programme. You're yawning, right? I know. There's no chance of me ever releasing any of these mundane meanderings into the wider world.
But in journalism, you're taught to include the five W's in your very first paragraph: who, what, where, why and who (and how's pretty important too). You don't have to be as strict in that in fiction, but the lesson learned is to get to what the reader needs to know as quickly as possible.
There are many other benefits. You learn to touch type, and while I'm not 100% fluent any more, I'm much faster now than at the time of my first painstaking attempts. And of course you have deadlines drilled into you. I'll never forget contributing to producing two issues of a college newspaper in two weeks as features editor: doesn't sound like much, but since it was worked around all the other classes, it was kind of frenetic. I think I could definitely give Nanowrimo a shot after that!
I'll wrap it up now in the journalistic spirit of keeping these posts short and sweet. Do you have any press experience or something similar that has helped shape you as a writer?