Writing is one of those skills that I believe is timeless and needed for almost everything and it is a necessity in almost every field.
For instance, many companies need writers to write their brand content and flyers and we also need to write coherent emails to employers when looking for jobs. And a lot of the times, what we say and how we say it, can make or break us.
Don’t listen to naysayers who tell you that you won’t make any money in this field and you should have,”taken something more practical in school, blah blah blah.”
Writing is an extremely useful skill and can take you very far if you are willing to put in the work. I am blessed to call myself a writer, but I have learned some very valuable lessons along the way as well.
Here are 10 no bullshit pieces of advice for writers who really want to succeed.
1. Write, every single day.
When I first began writing, I would hear this quite often. Sayings like, “Writers don’t think about writing, they just write.”
While this is true, this doesn’t happen for everyone right away and this wasn’t the case for me. I was a novice and I would often just force myself to write because I thought I had to.
As years have gone by and I have gotten better and have found myself more, I find myself writing every day for the most part because I just can’t stop and it’s like it is a part of me. The more I write, the more I notice how much better I am and how words just flow now. Nothing seems forced. It definitely pays to write every day if you want to pursue big-time things like publishing a book and writing for magazines. The more you write, the better you will get.
2. Stop comparing yourself to other writers.
If you want to do this and win, you need to stop looking over your shoulder, unless you are looking at other writers for tips and information on how you can be better. Other than that, stop looking at everyone else who writes because you are seriously fucking with your talent and your blessings.
What you have to realize is that not every writer is the same, just like every person is different. Just because they write, doesn’t mean they will have the same flow and skill set that you have; the same appeal that you have. The time you spend watching other writers is the time you could be writing your first book. Just saying.
3. You don’t have to know all the rules in the book to write.
Professional writing is my major, so if you are in school for writing, you do have an advantage because you can take classes that will teach you about grammar, rhetoric, tone, form, how to write pieces like op-eds and pitch query letters to editors, but even if you are not in school for writing, the internet is now our new teacher. You can easily look on YouTube for a lot of things and learn along the way. Don’t hold yourself back because you think you don’t have what it takes academic wise.
4. You need to be bold and stop expecting that things will come to you.
You will not be published in print in a magazine if you are not bold and actually look for magazines online and pitch to them, or if you are a savage like me, actually look for editors on social media and hit them up. LOL.
But seriously, we have the amazing advantage of the internet where you can search for hundreds of publications that pay you to write for them. Take advantage of that opportunity by being awake and bold when it comes to networking and looking for what you want. Study magazines and see what they are looking for. Don’t wait for people to find you and reach out. I wish it really was that easy though.
5. Make rejection your teacher, not your enemy.
I used to get so sad when I would get rejected, now I use it to see how I can improve and be better. If you always get 100% on every test, how would you know what you need to improve in? Writing is a career filled with rejection because it is a very fast field that looks for what is trending now and what will sell. You will not always get the OK for your articles, manuscripts and blog posts but does that mean you quit on what you love? If it truly your passion, you will keep writing against all odds anyways.
6. Give yourself adequate time to learn.
Writing is a field that is about learning and applying. It’s not like every other field where you study and just take a test and then boom, you are in. You have to know the game of this field. Know the skills, what sells, how to take rejection and make it for your good. So expect that you will not be an overnight success. Learning will be your friend while you are learning.
7. All of your unpaid pieces are not for nothing.
It all seems like it isn’t worth it sometimes, to write for sites that don’t pay you, but not only is that practice, you are building your portfolio. Places that pay you to write for them, especially magazines, want to see a portfolio. That being said, you need to have work to show them, to display your skill set. You also learn how to work with people and get pieces in on time when you publishing pieces for no pay. Always remember this.
8. Your trials in life make for amazing stories that need to be published.
As someone who has suffered from depression, suicide attempts, and has doubted myself in life over and over again, I have a story and a voice for people who are struggling with mental illness and writing about how we can change the stigma on an issue that is worldwide. You may be ashamed of who you are, your past, your story, but you can write about it and help so many people. Take your pain and make it into your platform.
9. Don’t burn bridges and listen to others in the field who can teach you something.
Like many things, networking plays a tremendous role and who you know can take you further into your career. You have had a fallout with someone who is in your field, but don’t slander or talk about someone just because you may have had a bad experience with it them. There are people who are advanced in areas and have some of the tools you need to make it to the next level. Don’t hinder your success because of pettiness.
10. It will take some time, but being a successful writer is possible.
It definitely will not be an overnight thing, but believe me when I tell you being happy and fulfilled as a writer is possible when you give your craft and skill set the time it needs.
This is such a versatile field. You can write for magazines in print, online, books, teach classes on the side to high-schoolers who want to pursue writing, you can freelance, write manuals, speeches for celebrities even. Do not doubt the places you can go in a field where the opportunities are endless.
You are blessed to call yourself a writer and you can make it very far if you work hard and have patience. You need tough skin to survive, but if you really love it, you will always be a winner.