If you’re a college student, chances are you’ve been asked to write a paper at some point during your educational career. But then there are those of us who want to do this for a living. Poets, novelists, journalists and English professors are among those who consider themselves writers. People who go above and beyond the occasional college essay and write, whether for fun, for work or just for the sake of writing. If you are one of these people, here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years.
It’s hard to ignore this part. If you’re a writer, you should be reading your daily fill of writing. Just as athletes watch sports and musicians listen to new artists, you should be studying the written word constantly. Read novels voraciously, read news articles, read poetry, whatever. If it’s a piece of writing, you should be consuming it. If anything, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what makes writing “good” or “bad.”
2) Write daily.
I read once that the easiest way to combat writer’s block is by writing. Put your inner editor to rest for a bit and just write. It doesn’t matter if your writing is good or even readable. As long as it’s out on paper, it’s not trapped in your head. Teacher and author Julia Cameron recommends writing three pages first thing in the morning, without worrying about grammar, flow or even punctuation.
3) Invest in some grammar books.
There’s a reason why writers and editors seem extremely picky. With the advent of social media and the Internet, there has been a spread of bad grammar. A lot of people don’t care about the mechanics of English writing anymore, and that’s a tragedy. Clean writing is the foundation upon which you can build whatever story you want to tell. Without it, it’s doomed to collapse.
4) Get out there.
Good writing is pure expression. A lot of the time, writing is a symptom of a well-lived life. You can write about interesting experiences if you spend all of your time on the couch. Get out there, make mistakes, make interesting friends, collect memories, feelings and events. Good writing is often autobiographical.
5) Put your neck on the line.
If there you have even the smallest desire to write professionally, you’ll need to learn how to deal with rejection. It’s been said that for every one piece that gets accepted, writers will accumulate 100 rejection letters (or emails). If you write something that isn’t so hot, don’t quit. Brush yourself off, edit, revise and continue writing. Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid to not have tried at all.
- Higher education: Adam Wolffbrandt/Chicago Tribune/MCT | Used With Permission