advice

LT / Counsel to a fellow writer

12:00:00 AM

When I was in high school, I was a member of Purely Dreaming, an online community for budding writers. The website shut down a long time ago, but I've maintained contact with a couple of my fellow writers, including Stella Rice, whose handle was unwanted_soul. Just last December, she reached out to me asking for advice on getting her foot in the door with her writing.

It took me a while to respond to her, not because I didn't want to help, but because no one ever really asked me for advice on writing. To this day, I find it a bit ridiculous that anyone would actually go to me for help on this subject. Haha! Anyway, Stella's question was a bit broad, so I probed a little in order to dimensionalize it. I asked what kind of writing she wanted to do, exactly, and what she wanted to become.
Keep writing.
(photo from the internet)
She said she wanted to do creative writing and eventually become an editor. I don't consider myself worthy of the title creative writer, and I also am not an editor (school paper doesn't count) by profession. That being said, I wasn't very sure what to tell her. But I wanted to help out a fellow writer, so I just shared with her the things that have helped me grow as a wordsmith. And I'd like to share the same with my readers.

Start and maintain a blog. As with any endeavor, the easiest way to get better at writing is to keep writing - and blogging is a great way to do it. I keep a diary, as well, and like blogging, it builds the habit, the discipline of writing. But the difference between a private journal and a blog is that with the latter, you learn to be aware of an audience. Writing, then, becomes more than an outlet for rants and raves, but rather a way to reach out, to communicate. This also gets the word out that you are a writer (if you do it right, that is), and it could even become part of your portfolio in the long run.

Read. Read. And read. I think it's obvious why a writer should read, so I won't expound on that. But I'd like to recommend reading from websites like Brain Pickings (avoid Thought Catalog, please), plus books penned by Milan Kundera, Rainer Maria Rilke, Leo Buscaglia, and so on. Avoid gossip magazines and go for the smarter titles. And oh - listen to podcasts and watch Ted Talks on creativity, as well.

Blow your own horn. I've learned that there's no shame in doing this - if you're a writer, then tell the world that you are. I know it's easier said than done; it took me years to muster the guts to put the title "Freelance Writer" on my LinkedIn profile (speaking of which - I highly recommend that you make one if you wish to get the word out about your writing). If you're still too embarrassed, it helps to have a wingman.

Value your work. I used to think that it's okay to do work for free in the name of building a portfolio. I guess that's fine at the start. But it's okay to charge for work, even if it's cheap in the beginning - you don't want people getting used to you writing for them for free. As you get better, as your portfolio gets bigger, you get to command a higher rate. This isn't about being greedy - it's about valuing your work.

Stella, I wish you luck in your writing journey.

isawisay

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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)