Advice to a young writer

Mar 26, 2012 No Comments by
This is an email I sent recently to an undergraduate student at a well-respected East Coast university who contacted me for suggestions about how to begin establishing himself as a music journalist.
Dear ______________,
Thanks for getting in touch, and sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. I’m not sure what suggestions I can give you, in part because things are so different now from when I was starting out in the late ’80s/early ’90s. I got a job as a part-time proofreader at a national music magazine when I was 16. At that time, we still had a typesetter, and columns of type were actually pasted onto boards along with FPO (“for position only”) Xeroxes of art and photos. The boards were then physically shipped to the printer. Today, none of that rigmarole is necessary to communicate with others. You can publish yourself instantly. This being the case, you might as well just try some stuff and see what you get out of it. You say you have a passion for writing, but I see no sign of that on your blog, which appears to be nearly all video and audio clips. Perhaps I missed some links or something. In any case, I can’t find enough there to indicate any type of direction, or offer you any. And so I advise you to find some subjects you feel strongly about. Love or hate, doesn’t matter. Think about why you love or hate them. Then start writing down those thoughts. Then write some more. And then some more. In short, write a lot. Then take a look at what you wrote a few days or a few weeks later. See how you feel about it. That should tell you plenty. Maybe you feel you can sharpen it. Maybe not. If you like what you’ve done, put that writing up on your blog, let people know about it, and see what they have to say. Once your words start to circulate, there’s no telling who might see them, or how those who see them might be able to help you. But before anything else, you’ve got to start writing. Good luck.
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