1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
- 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.
How cool is this? Every three weeks, One Story publishes a short story submitted by one of their readers in an effort to keep the format alive and well. It’s $21 for 18 issues, which is not a bad deal.
I just finished my interview with Davy Sumner for my Student Life story for UWEC’s campus newspaper, The Spectator. I’m way excited to write it. I hope you’ll be way excited to read it.