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What is the best path to take when trying to become an author?

I'm currently a high school student who is interested in creative writing. Would it be more valuable to try to start writing and get published right away, or go to college and major in something language/writing related? Could I do both at the same time?

Thank you comment icon You can do both,going to college gives you additional experience and helps you to be a better writer,gives you an additional advantage to be devise . hope this helps Chinonso Akamadu

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Subject: Career question for you

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Tom’s Answer

Having been trying to establish a writing career for so long, my advice would be this: just write.
That sounds simplistic and probably doesn't help as much, but it's the basis of what you want to do, and the most basic instruction you can receive. If something strikes you at any point in the day, write it down. If you're falling asleep and need to jot something down, then wake up and get it down. As far as going to school and taking courses, do what you feel is necessary. If you feel that you need help when it comes to your writing, find a mentor, find a certificate program, find a college program, there is no limit to what you can use to advance your skill when it comes to the written word. What matters, what will really make a difference, is what will work for YOU. I know it doesn't narrow anything down, but this is writing, it's not a set process no matter what anyone says. I have an MFA in Creative Writing, and I'm still attempting to break into a big publishing house, so a degree isn't a golden ticket to writing. Pester the literary agents, hone your talent, and give them something they can't put down. That, above all else, is the most useful thing you can do. But it all comes down to what I already mentioned, and what I'll leave you with.

Just write.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Tom! The most simplistic advice can sometimes be the most helpful. I know I'm only going to get better the more I write. Thank you for your insight! Achilles
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Achilles,

I am going to echo those who have gone before me here. Write whenever you can and actively seek out feedback on your work. I do so personally. I write creatively as often as possible. I am always trying to bring voice to the characters in my mind. Write often. Challenge yourself to write in different ways - first person, third person. Write in different tones, humor, adventure, horror. I know that with my favorite authors, I can see that they wrote a lot and did their research. I have no idea if any of them have advanced education. I would say that command of the English language and its nuances have really helped me in my writing career. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would take English.

I entered my career by writing professionally. When I started working, I defaulted to what I do - I wrote down all the tasks related to my job so that I would remember them. Putting them together in an order that made sense to others. This called technical writing. And it gave me some of my first audiences, since I shared them with others who asked. Then I began to teach others how to do my job, which is often about story telling. It involved telling them my experiences in particular tasks. Make sure that you tell stories in your life, even if it is about what you did over the weekend.

Right now, I am an Instructional designer. I write creatively every day, even when on the surface it can appear technical. While technical writing is important, telling a story that conveys emotion and gravity is still needed to make training impactful. I have editors, so my writing is constantly being checked and enhanced. That's the other side of writing, being open to feedback and support in getting the work to the best place it can be.

Gloria
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Sree Padma’s Answer

Well, if you are aspiring to be an author, you should start writing whenever and wherever you are. It is an urge to express yourself and reflect on what you observe in your surroundings or yourself. Your expression may not be up to your expectations, but as long as you have an urge, you should keep going, writing, editing, and, if need may be, rewriting. It would help if you remembered that not many, even famous writers get it right on their first attempt.
And, once you know your heart is in writing, you will automatically lead yourself by taking writing courses and doing the needful. I wish you the best!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice and kind words! I know I have a passion for writing, but putting it out into a professional setting can be confusing and stressful. Nevertheless, I'm going to continue doing what I love. Again, thanks for the response :) Achilles
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William’s Answer

Hi Achilles!
Creative Writing might require college or vocational / career qualifications, depending on your level of personal development. Creative Writing is a subset of Journalism. You may go for Communication Studies, Language Studies / Linguistics or Creative Art, Literary Studies / Literature or other Special Writing options.
Some writers self developed without college or any special or formal education on writing art, but it is on rear occasions where individuals are naturally gifted. Some chose to narrate and use professional writers to communicate their ideas. Others write, but improve quality of work with other contributors.
Remember to develop your self to be able to claim ownership of your intellectual property and to edge against competitions in the market.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the detailed response, William! I will definitely look into those fields of study and see what interests me. I think going to college would help me hone in my skills and give me an edge in the market. I just wasn't sure if the reality of the industry was different than what I expected. Thank you for the insight! Achilles
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Harold’s Answer

Hey Achilles!

Echoing some of the folks who've already responded, but the easiest answer is: A writer writes.

In other words your choice isn't either/or. Write. Write often. Learn from classes and reading and apply those tools as you find them appropriate. You have to learn the rules of grammar and structure, not so that you stick to them, but so that you know when it is appropriate to break them in service to your craft. That's where classes can be incredibly useful. They will expose you to all kinds of writing you may not have otherwise found on your own or even understood the importance of.

So, by all means, take classes. Whether that's your ultimate major or just part of what you learn, the important part is to keep working your craft. Plenty of writers have degrees and careers that have little or nothing to do directly with writing...in fact, it can help you make a living!
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Liza’s Answer

Write! Read! And yes, a college degree in an area that interests you will only help you realize your dreams. It's not only a way to explore more subjects, but ANY kind of writing (whether it's papers or giving peers feedback) will serve you as a writer. Don't limit yourself; be open to all kinds of experiences. It will only inspire you as a writer!
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