What are some things I should be doing in order to become a journalist or published author?
I am a senior in high school and an aspiring writer. I have loved writing for a few years now and can see myself doing that for my job and possibly becoming a published author in the future. Even though I have some experience and internships relating to the writing and journalism field, I was wondering what else I should or should not be doing now in order to achieve my goal. Also, any obstacles that I may face along the way and methods to overcome them would be much appreciated, along with any tips you want to share with me. Thank you very much! #journalism #writing
I'm going to echo the sentiments to start a blog (internet presence is key nowadays), but here are some other things to do:
Get involved. This is the biggest one. Get involved with a literary magazine or newspaper if you go to a college that has them (or start these things if they do not already exist!). Get involved in the community by taking on writing-related internships that pique your interest. Do your research with these: a lot of them are unpaid, so find one that represents the kind of writing that you'd like to pursue, and be prepared to work for free for a few months, in exchange for the professional network you need and a chance to write and/or do tons of hands-on editorial work. In that same vein, get involved with volunteer writing programs, whether they exist to help kids with creative writing (like 826) or to help prisoners write plays, short stories, etc. Get involved by going to readings, book events, and meet-ups with writers, and don't be shy—talk to people! You'll hear stories about writers being exclusive or curmudgeonly or anti-social, but don't believe those; a lot of people are ridiculously nice and would love to talk to you about how they've gotten where they are.
Social media. Love it and use it. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to connect with people, and also to friend/follow publishing houses, presses, imprints, magazines, publicists, editors, and writers. This will help you keep up with what's happening, with what's being published, with what events are taking place and where, with what you should be reading. Social media is your real-time go-to place for centralized information. It also helps get your name out there. I have a friend who started working with a prolific literary magazine simply because she'd mastered live-tweeting literary events.
Take writing classes. Always working on your craft is important, and writing is an evolutionary process, so think about ways you can help advance this process. We also all need editors, even well-seasoned writers. Join a writing group and get feedback from people you trust.
"Don't be precious with your words." This still remains one of the best pieces of advice anyone's ever given me. It's a scary thing, to put your work out there, but once you're ready, do it. It's never too early, and it's never too late, but you won't know what's working and what isn't unless you do it.
Read. Constantly. The more you do it, the more you'll learn and the better your writing will be. Guaranteed.
I agree that you have to master your craft, so getting lots of experience writing is great. I would start a blog. A good way for people to read your materials is to put it online, so a blog is great space for that. There are tons of good links about what makes a good blog. You should write about something relevant. So if you are interested in being a journalist, I would focus on current topics and what insights or even emotional reactions you had to current news, etc.
Being a writer or in any creative field you face a lot of criticism, opposition, and competition. The best thing you can do is not take the feedback personally. Learn how to grown and view each "no" or door slamming in your face as a new opportunity to reach more people and hone in on your craft. Being a writer is not a easy job...but I don't think there are "easy" jobs out there.
You need to determine what being a successful writer means to you. Anyone can get published today...just write an E-book and post it on Amazon or you can submit articles to various free magazines and get published that way too. But is just getting published enough for you or do you want to do something with your writing, like change people's opinions or inform them about social injustice or make them laugh or cry...how do you want to impact your readers?
I would think about that first and it will make you a stronger candidate if you can explain your reasoning for wanting to be a writer, besides that fact that you enjoy it.
Most important is: you've got to write and hone your craft. It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, they've found, so do the math- that's a lot of years spent writing.
Since you won't be paid enough as a writer to live decently until you master it, there are two paths to get there. I took the first: have a career in something else that pays (engineering for me), and write on the side. Patrick Rothfuss, best fantasy writer of my generation, took the other path: work in crappy jobs living at the poverty level for 10 years, then release a book for the ages (The Name of The Wind). Read his blog for more detail, but Rothfuss will give you this tip: live somewhere cheap. Live in crappy apartments. Live with roommates. Work night jobs or ones that give you free time. And write, write, write.
10,000 hours. But the view afterwards is nice.
-> I was wondering what else I should or should not be doing now in order to achieve my goal.
A great way to get exposure is to start a blog on a topic that you're an expert or in the know about -- and semi-regularly start posting there, linking to other content. This would be in lieu of being published by other websites/media companies which will be about breaking into 1, and then using that network to slowly expand.
Fortunately there are few people who are willing to put sustained effort into being noticed, and content accumulation is, well, cumulative, meaning that if you start writing and putting blog posts out there that others see and comment on, then a fraction of those people will go back and see what else you have to say.
So to sum up my advice is to put what out what you have -- not personal thoughts or feelings, but professional positions on topics you're interested in and original reporting if you can muster it -- and then continue down the internship route where you'll be able to generate some published clips.
Best of luck and happy writing!
You are already ahead of the game by having some experience in the writing field. Continue to get more writing experiences and perhaps start thinking about what topic you really want to write about and perhaps specialize in that if possible. Then seek out publications that focus on the topic you want to write about and apply for those openings. Also start a blog and update it with articles - this will continue to give you writing practice. And more importantly practice meeting deadlines as this is essential in any writing job.