9 Professional Journalists Get Real And Share Their Best Advice For Young Writers

Monday, April 10, 2017 New York, NY, USA

9 Professional Journalists Get Real And Share Their Best Advice For Young Writers - Taylor Mead
(Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash)
I didn't always know I wanted to be a writer. Don't get me wrong, I always knew I enjoyed writing but determining what exactly you want to do for the rest of your life... literally every day... is not as simple as "I think I want to be a writer."

Honestly, it wasn't even until I had a few internships that I fully realized writing was something out of which I could build a career.

Today, with more than 430 writing samples and counting, it's safe to say I am a writer — how strange does that sound? Truth be told though, I would not be where I am today without the internships I had, the outlets which graciously published my pieces when I was just beginning, and the incredible people I met along the way.

My best advice? Accept every opportunity that comes your way and when opportunities don't present themselves, make your own with the help of the people you meet throughout the journey.

So I reached out to the people I met along the way for their best advice for young writers, and here's what 9 journalists had to say:

1. "It's always better to have done the interview, gone to the event, or pitched the story than to have not. I try to remind myself of this when there's an event I don't feel like attending or an interview I can't immediately use. Always better to have at least tried/experienced something than to be left wondering... [And] if you're having trouble getting something out, pretend you're writing an email to a friend. Get it down/out. You can polish later." - Maggie McGrath, Forbes

2. "Don't be afraid to let the little quirks of your voice shine through in your writing. Especially with digital writing, it's so easy to be a cookie-cutter copy of anything that's out there, but it's more important to stay true to your own unique voice." - Mara Santilli, Shape Magazine

3. "Say yes to everything that comes your way and don't be afraid to ask to contribute or be involved in something. The worst that could happen is they say 'no,' but the goal is to get as much experience as you can. Even the smallest tasks can lead to new responsibilities or networking opportunities. Also, you will probably mess up at some point — literally, everyone will — but it's all about taking it in stride, learning from your mistakes, and not letting it deter you." - Jinnie Chua, In Public Safety

4. "Never hesitate to put pen to paper when you're feeling inspired. It doesn't matter if your idea isn't fully formed, just give yourself the space to write. Rewriting will come later, but letting the creative energy flow is the best part of the process." - Kristin Magaldi, MTV

5. "Don't take anything too personally. Writing is a creative outlet and by nature personal, but that doesn't mean criticism or edits should be." - Michelle Guerrere, Freelance Writer

6. "Critique is crucial for growth. So don't be aggressive, be receptive." - Laurise McMillan, Refinery29

7. "I've always been told to 'write what you know,' and I've found this to be incredibly obvious yet valuable. Most simply, it means to write with intention, purpose, and conviction. You can't force great writing, and if you don't buy it, no one else will. Write with heart." - Rebecca Fenton, MAKERS

8. "We are experiencing a fantastic moment in time where everyone has the opportunity to be a published writer. That being said, it doesn't mean all writing is created equal. While there is a great deal of quality content, there is much more noise. In order to create something of value, you must create something unique. Start with discovering your voice. I had a teacher in grade school who told me to write without thinking too much about the words. Let your thoughts come across the paper, she'd say. It is in that creative process that you'll find your voice, which will probably sound similar to your speaking voice. You can edit from there. Don't try to be something you're not. It's okay if you're not funny. It's okay if you prefer more simplistic vocabulary. And it's okay if you don't follow the rules you were taught in school. The best creatives never follow rules anyway." - Emily Raleigh, Spire & Co.

9. "Make sure to create your own opportunities and follow your own path. Don't worry about someone else's journey because how it worked out for them may not work the same for you. Just stay focused and keep pushing!" - Brittaney Trent, Yahoo Style & Beauty