College was a seemingly endless cycle of writer’s block. Now being done with homework and classes, I can already feel that inspiration for a story starting to return little by little. Meanwhile, I’ve been reaching out to literary magazines, news periodicals, and other publications for freelance work. I’ve only been home a week and the search is already creating anxiety and doubt within me.
At the end of the day, the most important thing someone can offer to a fellow writer is a word of encouragement.
The difficult part is not having much writing experience to begin with. I wrote for my school paper, was the Copy Editor for it my senior year, and have been published in a couple other magazines, but even then publications want someone more established, more experienced. It’s hard to obtain experience when no one is providing opportunities.
Then again, my optimism easily becomes idealizing a market that’s extremely competitive. You first have to ensure that the quality of your writing is strong, meeting your potential, even surpassing it. What comes after is the quantity. What I mean by that is finding and researching as many publications as possible that you can write for, both fiction and more news-orientated publications. It’s crucial to understand what a certain literary journal is searching for, or what kind of music a magazine specializes in. You might be surprised how many EDM music magazines there are; I sure was.
I’ve noticed that many publications want you to contact them already with a few pitches in mind, sometimes even a completed article you’re hoping to get published. Some other publications are simply looking to add freelance writers to their team, someone who will write anything that’s assigned to them. The best part about that: building a portfolio.
Thankfully a local paper has brought me onto their freelancing team, where I’ve been tasked to write two articles for the Culture section for the upcoming issue. Already the stress of proving to the paper my qualifications as a writer has seized me. But once I got a reply for an interview, the fuels of anxiety and doubt gradually turned into fuel for my article.
Freelance writing is not my main pursuit. While I’m writing about a theatre production about Liza Minnelli, I’m relentlessly searching for places where I can submit my novella and short stories. My passion is fiction, but I’m simultaneously passionate about music and film. If I can write about those things while aspiring to write fiction, I don’t count that as a loss or compromising on my longterm goal. I’m getting experience, I’m writing about things I’m passionate about, and I’m simply writing.
Stephen King says in On Writing that you should read a lot and write a lot. Those are the simplest ingredients when it comes to improving writing skills. I receive a rejection letter every other week, but it hasn’t stopped me from writing. Rejection letters are discouraging no matter who you are, but they let you evaluate and edit your work, as well as instill that strong quality that’s the most crucial part from the beginning.
Discovering a community of writers, whether that’s within a workshop or online writer-website, is incredibly helpful. At the end of the day, the most important thing someone can offer to a fellow writer is a word of encouragement. Writing is a very solitary act with little positive reinforcement. Even if a family member reads something I wrote, I’m incredibly grateful. Writers want to be read. After the act of writing––of creating a world solely from your imagination––is over, who is there to turn to that will pay attention? that will listen? that will read?
Writing is incredibly competitive. Many writers don’t even want to write the next great American novel or be a worldwide best seller. Many writers just want people to read their stories. Participating in a writing community is a sure way to receive the stability, challenge, and encouragement every writer needs.
Beyond the newsroom at college, I participated in the English Club. It was scarce but there were a faithful few that were there every week to throw ideas around and read what we were working on. Because of the English Club, I developed a priceless relationship with one of the members. Since graduating, we continue to email each other stories and offer feedback. Having even one person like that in a writer’s life is invaluable. It makes going out into the world as an overly-optimistic writer somewhat easier, or at least more bearable.
Never give up searching for publications to submit your work. Find a writing community to encourage and be encouraged by. Never stop writing.
Where do you find your stability and source of encouragement/inspiration as a writer?
She has also self-published a novel on amazon.com, has been published in Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Oregon Music News, and Write Naked Magazine.