Monday, April 10, 2017

Want to Be a Writer? 9 Young Journalists Get Real & Share Their Best Advice

I did not always know I wanted to be a writer. Don't get me wrong, I always knew I enjoyed writing but determining what exactly you want to do for the rest of your life... literally every day... is not as simple as "I think I want to be a writer."

Honestly, it wasn't even until I had a few internships that I fully realized writing was something out of which I could build a career.

Today, with more than 430 writing samples and counting, it's safe to say I am a writer — how strange does that sound? Truth be told though, I would not be where I am today without the internships I had, the outlets which graciously published my pieces when I was just beginning, and the incredible people I met along the way.

My best advice? Accept every opportunity that comes your way and when opportunities don't present themselves, make your own with the help of the people you meet throughout the journey.

I was lucky enough to meet incredible mentors and peers each place I went, seven of whom got real about their advice for both aspiring and current writers.


1. "It's always better to have done the interview, gone to the event, or pitched the story than to have not. I try to remind myself of this when there's an event I don't feel like attending or an interview I can't immediately use. Always better to have at least tried/experienced something than to be left wondering... [And] if you're having trouble getting something out, pretend you're writing an email to a friend. It's get it down/out. You can polish later." - Maggie McGrath, "Forbes"

2. "Don't be afraid to let the little quirks of your voice shine through in your writing. Especially with digital writing, it's so easy to be a cookie-cutter copy of anything that's out there, but it's more important to stay true to your own unique voice." - Mara Santilli, "Shape"

3. "Say yes to everything that comes your way and don't be afraid to ask to contribute or be involved in something. The worst that could happen is they say 'no,' but the goal is to get as much experience as you can. Even the smallest tasks can lead to new responsibilities or networking opportunities. Also, you will probably mess up at some point — literally everyone will — but it's all about taking it in stride, learning from your mistakes, and not letting it deter you." - Jinnie Chua, In Public Safety

4. "Never hesitate to put pen to paper when you're feeling inspired. It doesn't matter if your idea isn't fully formed, just give yourself the space to write. Rewriting will come later, but letting the creative energy flow is the best part of the process." - Kristin Magaldi, MTV

5. "Don't take anything too personally. Writing is a creative outlet and by nature personal, but that doesn't mean criticism or edits should be." Michelle Guerrere, Freelance Writer

6. "Critique is crucial for growth. So don't be aggressive, be receptive." - Laurise McMillan, Refinery29

7. "I've always been told to 'write what you know,' and I've found this to be incredibly obvious yet valuable. Most simply, it means to write with intention, purpose, and conviction. You can't force great writing, and if you don't buy it, no one else will. Write with heart." - Rebecca Fenton, MAKERS

8. "We are experiencing a fantastic moment in time where everyone has the opportunity to be a published writer. That being said, it doesn't mean all writing is created equal. While there is a great deal of quality content, there is much more noise. In order to create something of value, you must create something unique. Start with discovering your voice. I had a teacher in grade school who told me to write without thinking too much about the words. Let your thoughts come across the paper, she'd say. It is in that creative process that you'll find your voice, which will probably sound similar to your speaking voice. You can edit from there. Don't try to be something you're not. It's okay if you're not funny. It's okay if you prefer more simplistic vocabulary. And it's okay if you don't follow the rules you were taught in school. The best creatives never follow rules anyway." - Emily Raleigh, Spire & Co.

9. "Make sure to create your own opportunities and follow your own path. Don't worry about someone else's journey because how it worked out for them may not work the same for you. Just stay focused and keep pushing!" - Brittaney Trent, Yahoo Style & Beauty

Do you have advice for aspiring writers? Comment below with your words of wisdom.



16 comments :

  1. Wow I really liked the 7 suggestions. Very inspiring and motivating to keep going.

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    1. I'm so glad they gave you inspiration/motivation! Thanks for reading, Cacia!

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  2. Loved your post. The 7 suggestions were great. Definitely say yes to all. I really want to branch out into other forms of writing as well.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad you loved the advice :) Can't wait to read some of your writing!

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  3. This is great advice! I like to write as thought I am talking in my head too and then go back and make edits. These are all very useful tips for writing!

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    1. Aw thank you so much for reading, Kit! It really works talking it out in your head and then going back and editing. So glad you found this helpful. xxoo

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  4. This definitely hits home for me, as I am graduating with a B.A. in Journalism in a few weeks. Thanks for this!

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    1. Tiara, I'm so happy to hear it! Thanks for reading :) I graduated in May 2016 — so weird that it's almost a year ago now — from Fordham University with a BA in Journalism as well! Congrats on the upcoming graduation! Where do you go to school?

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  5. I absolutely love this post - some lovely gems of advice in here! Same as you, I've loved writing all my life, but I had no idea that it could be a career (besides being a tortured artist struggling to write bad fiction) until I stumbled into it after grad school. I'm so glad that I did, and would love to share my advice with other young writers - will share this post, for starters!

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    1. That is so fantastic to hear, Robin, thank you so much for reading! I am so happy to hear you'll be encouraging other writers as well. Do you have a blog? I would love to give it a read!

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  6. These are great tidbits! I love encouragement from those a little farther on the path than me.

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    1. Aw thanks so much for reading, Ivanna! I'm so glad you loved it! I would love to read your blog. What's the link?

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  7. "It's always better to have done the interview, gone to the event, or pitched the story than to have not."

    This has been my mantra this year.

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    1. It's so true, isn't it!? Thanks so much for taking the time to read! And keep doing those interviews, going to those events, and pitching those stories, Bailey! xx

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  8. Great post and I agree to 100% !!! Always be yourself and let your personality shine through your work x

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