So you want to be a writer? Read these five tips for getting a head start, honing your skills and preparing for an apprenticeship that’ll train you in the art of the wordsmith
Here are our top five tips to get you started on a career as a writer.
- Read. Read a lot. Keep reading and never stop. That is the simplest and best way to become a better writer. Read your favourite authors, their recommendations and inspirations. If fiction isn’t your thing, read non-fiction. Or newspapers, magazines and websites. Read menus if that’s what you enjoy! Never let anyone tell you something isn’t worth reading because it isn’t considered to be ‘literary’. If it’s written down, it’s writing and required years of practice and education (ie, reading!) to produce.
- The internet revolutionised written media, making it possible for everyone to publish and attract an audience. Start your own blog and Twitter account, where you can publish and promote your writing. The subject matter can be anything from the latest fashion trends to your favourite books. What’s important is that you’ll be writing and improving your skills, while building a portfolio of work that you can show off to employers. Of course, if the subject of your blog is something you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to keep it up.
- Secure a byline. The internet again is treasure trove of news and features websites, blogs and more dedicated to the written word. Do they solicit contributions? If so, get in touch and offer your services as a writer. A byline, ie, a published article written by you with your name at the top for all to see, looks great on your CV and employers love to see it. It’s also an excellent opportunity to work with an editor who can critique your writing and tell you how to improve as a writer. A note: many websites will offer a byline but no remuneration. You should always be paid for your work and ‘exposure’ doesn’t pay the bills, but use your judgement in deciding to whom to lend your writing skills. A charity may be a good solution, for example.
- Learn from writers. In this day and age of social distancing and lockdowns, it will be difficult to attend creative writing or journalism classes. But many have moved online, offering workshops via video conferencing and tasks to be completed from home. The guidance of an established writer is invaluable, although not for everyone. If you’re the kind of learner who needs a helping hand, a course could be just what you need to get started in a career as a writer.
- Build your portfolio. And keep building it. A writer needs a body of work to demonstrate to employers that they can write often and well. A portfolio should begin as a testament to your early work, so it could contain short stories written for school projects, or essays you’re particularly proud of. Once you start your blog, include these articles and links to where they live online. As you achieve bylines for other publications, include these (and links), or PDFs and press cuttings, always being careful to remove your older work as and when you need to. Your portfolio should get better as you do.
If this has sparked your interest in becoming a writer, take a look at some of these related apprenticeships on offer. They could be your next step:
Good luck and if you have any more tips to share with us, please get in touch at email@example.com