- Care about things. Show it. Be funny, barbed, and pointed when needed. Slick is easy; don’t be slick.
- Confidence and arrogance will both protect you when people yell at you. One is vital and one is poisonous.
- Learn to be your own devil’s advocate. Interrogate your own arguments. Interrogate your point of view.
- Successful writers can play loud and soft and can make a variety of harsh and gentle sounds, just like great musicians.
- Look at the people whose careers you admire and think about their paths. Don’t assume you want the fast lane.
- If you are read widely, you will get blowback, no matter what. Don’t let it paralyze you, but don’t reflexively blow it off.
- If you try to make your fortune creating controversy, then even if it works, you’ll be expected to keep doing it.
- Being young doesn’t make you dumb or smart, important or irrelevant. But you’ll be a different writer in 20 years.
- “Win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful.” Obey deadlines and house style.
- You are entitled to be wrong, to feel embarrassed, to feel like a jerk, and to keep writing anyway.
[as told by NPR’s Linda Holmes]
Dovetails quite nicely with Ann Powers’ guide to writing about music.
Being a young writer at her first grown-up job, I’ve taken these to heart. I’ve already gone through a few of them, and I fully expect to meet the rest soon enough. Still, and always, learning.