I want to preface this post by saying that these are tips/advice that I wish someone would have given me as a young writer (or as someone just starting out writing). Because these come from my own personal experience, some of the tips may seem random or odd, but I thought I would include them anyway. I don’t know, maybe you will be able to relate, or even apply them to your own life?
For simplicity’s sake, I’m just going to put these in bullet point format. For each point I will explain a little bit about what I mean/why it’s important.
#1: Write as much and as often as possible, but try to do so in a regular, scheduled way.
I will openly admit that I am someone who gets easily distracted. The internet is both my best friend and my worst enemy; something I think a lot of people can probably relate to. Because of this, I have a very short attention span. The best way for me to right as often as I want/need to is for me to set up a regular schedule (i.e. everyday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.) However, I am still working on this. I do not write everyday and it has been making my skin itch recently.
#2: Pay more attention to your grammar classes.
This is pretty self-explanatory. I suck at grammar now; I mean, not too badly. I am competent at grammar, but I find myself looking stuff up semi-frequently. Copy-editing is not my favorite.
#3: Don’t feel like you have to quietly accept it when people say, “oh, English… What are you going to do with that? Be a teacher? You know, you won’t make much money doing that. You might want to major in something more practical.”
English happens to be one of the most diverse majors. For the purpose of this post, I’m including all forms of English and writing majors in this. Critical analysis, something that is essential in the English major, helps individuals think big picture as well as acknowledging the importance of every small detail. There are English graduates from my university who are currently employed by large tech companies, the FBI, and working in international affairs (along with more traditional English jobs like working in publishing.) English majors are problem solvers and broad thinkers, and – though teachers are very important people and I have nothing but respect for them – English majors are not only limited to teaching.
#4: GET INVOLVED YOU BIG DUMMY!!!
When I was young (around 8 or 9 probably) I thought that I was going to be a veterinarian. Turns out, that was a horrible idea for me since I am allergic to about 99% of all small household pets. However, I didn’t really think that being a writer was something I could feasibly do until I was about 16. That is a roughly 8 year gap where I loved to write but was just kind of…existing? I wish someone would have told me that A) being a writer is something that you can do as a future career and lifestyle, and B) being active in the writing community now will be really beneficial for you in the long run.
Simply writing is not the only way to be involved in the writing community. Websites like figment.com and nanowrimo.com are great ways to get involved with other writers and have people give you feedback on your work. National November Writing Month – the program – takes place during the month of November (as the name would have you think) but there are forums for both adults and young writers that are open year-round. I’m not sure what the age cap is for Figment, but to the best of my knowledge it is 13 and up. I really wish I had known about these things prior to being in my late teens; it is a great way to meet people with similar styles/taste as you, as well as people whose strengths are in other genres/subjects.
#5: School doesn’t have to be boring. Well… not always!
Is there a Creative Writing club in your school? Yes? Join in! Creative Writing clubs are a great way to not only get people to read and critique your own work, but to be able to read other people’s writing. This can introduce you to new styles, genres, and really fun voices that you might not have read before. After all, the better reader you are, the better writer you are.
Your school does not have a Creative Writing club? Make one! I realize that the arts are the first thing to be cut in terms of clubs and extracurriculars (a bunch of bullshit if you ask me – will you have sports later in life? No, probably not. Besides, athletes’ careers tend to be pretty short-lived. Arts stay with you forever. Just saying.) However, if you find a teacher or professor willing to be the club mentor, you can pitch it to your school that it will not require any financial backing; really all you need is a classroom for about 1-2 hours after school. I guess it’s possible that I am making this process seem more simple than it is, but I don’t think so. The best part about Creative Writing is that it is super casual. You really just need a place to gather and write.
Are you new to writing but not to life? (Ehem, that was a weird way of asking if you are an adult. Sorry.) Try forming a writers group in your area. You don’t necessarily need to create one; just Google some in your city. A lot of libraries have groups like this that get together and discuss books and writing. These can be super helpful and a great way to meet people! Sorry if that sounded super cheesy and cliché (because it totally did.)
I hope this post was somewhat helpful. Like I said, these are things that I wish I would have known when I was younger and just starting out. I have a feeling there will be another post like this coming in the future when my brain isn’t so mushy. For some reason I have been struggling to keep myself motivated to do work this week – thanks for nothing summer.
Talk to you soon!