Four Career Tips for Aspiring Writers
I do a lot of networking and when I explain to people what I do, one of the most common questions I get asked is, what made you become a writer? I find it difficult to give a straightforward response and can only really sum it up in the fact that writing is just something I have always done and have always loved doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else. From a very young age, I was encouraged to write, whether that was a thank you note to relatives or letters across the world to various pen friends. I had incredibly supportive teachers and parents who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to take it further into higher education and eventually as a career. So with graduation season just around the corner, here are a few tips for students looking to enter the writing field:
- Don’t be afraid of feedback
In fact, make it a point to get as much feedback on your writing as possible. It’s surprising how many people are willing to take the time to review your work and give an honest appraisal on where you can improve. Years ago, I remember an early essay of mine being submitted to a famous British newsreader, who not only provided constructive criticism but took the time to write a personal letter wishing me a great future in the industry. I still have the letter to this day. In my early career, I approached an editor with an article I had written, and he was a fantastic support in giving hints and tips on how to crack the highly competitive journalism industry.
- Write for free – at least at first
I had submitted at least five features to a magazine for free before I got my reward – a press trip to Thailand with paid commission for a 1000-word article. I was ecstatic. It’s not always easy to get published but building up a portfolio of work is one of the most important assets you can create for yourself. Whether you’re looking to work as a copywriter in a big ad agency, or a features writer for a select publication, potential employees will always want to see published work.
- Choose your niche
When I set up Travel Ink, many people questioned why I wanted to focus only on the travel, tourism and hospitality industry when there was so much potential business in other sectors. The answer was easy. I was passionate about the industry, I knew and understood it, and therefore it made me a better writer – or at least a quicker one. Perhaps more importantly, it makes the process so much more enjoyable when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about.
- Earn your qualifications
A perception exists that talented writers are born rather than made, and while some people definitely have a flair for the written word, understanding language and how it works is imperative. There are degrees in linguistics, literature, and journalism, as well as in the areas of new media. One of the most valuable qualifications I achieved was the Certification of English Language Teaching to Adults. Why? Because in order to teach something, you have to understand it, and then simplify it – not always an easy task with something as complex as the grammatical rules of English. This not only allowed me to teach English to foreign students but also gave me an in-depth understanding of the language and all its idiosyncrasies. Plus you get to travel the world, while earning money, which in my book is always a bonus.
Best of luck!