Congratulations! You want to be a writer. Maybe you’re obsessed with books and dream of writing your own someday, or maybe there’s a story inside of you just bursting to be put to paper. Maybe you’re forging a career in journalism or public relations, or maybe you find yourself reading an article online and thinking, I could do that. Whether your writerly aspirations are personal or professional, the time to hone your writing skills is now. Here are five tips to help you get started!
1. You Should be Reading
Books will be your number one teacher, so consult them often! If you want to write science fiction, read science fiction. If you want to be the next Kazuo Ishiguro, read Kazuo Ishiguro. If reading a single word not assigned to you by a professor sounds like torture…maybe writing isn’t for you. Consider registering for classes that require a lot of reading, but don’t forget to balance assigned reading with reading for pleasure.
2. Write Everyday
Everyday. Even when you don’t want to, even when what you’re writing isn’t all that great—don’t worry, only a very small amount of what you write is going to be “great.” The point is that you’re flexing those writing muscles and making them stronger. Try setting daily goals like a half hour, an hour, or a couple of pages. Keep a diary or personal blog for the days you really don’t feel like writing. Over time, getting into the flow will be much easier, and your writing will thank you for it!
3. Join the Writing Community
Writers should be around other writers. You need to find good mentors and fellow writers you can trust to read your work. Plus, the importance of networking and support from like-minded peers shouldn’t be overlooked. College is a great time to get involved. Take writing classes, join a student-run publication, or apply for an on-campus internship with lots of writing opportunities. Pay attention to events like the Clemson Literary Festival or Read-Up Greenville, and volunteer when you can. Making connections is important, and will be especially valuable after graduation.
4. Don’t Keep Your Writing to Yourself
Writing—whether personal, professional, or academic—is meant to be read. Share your writing with others and listen to the feedback you receive. Maybe start a blog and share your writing over social media, or email a few of those like-minded peers and ask them to read your work. Read literary magazines and journals that inspire you and submit pieces for publication. This is a good habit to get into, especially since you’ll get a lot of rejections. I once had an instructor tell me that if I wasn’t getting a rejection letter once a month, I wasn’t doing my job. So, do your job and get your writing out there!
5. Remember That Writing is a Process
Editing doesn’t just mean fixing comma splices or asking your mom to check for spelling errors. Instead, it means reimagining and reshaping your work into what it needs to be. It means asking yourself what isn’t working then writing and rewriting until it works. This is all part of the process. And it’s a beautiful process, because at some point the poem, short story, or blog post you’ve been toiling over will be finished. Something new will exist, and it will be because you took an idea and a knack for words and decided to make something out of nothing.
Written By: Hannah Pearson