So you want to be a writer, eh kid? Well, aside from acting, you couldn’t have picked a job with less stability and more constant uncertainty. Congratulations!
Hey… wait, where are you going? I didn’t mean to scare you away! That’s just the bad news. The good news is that if you really want to be a writer for a living, there are some things that you can start doing now to lay the groundwork for a fruitful and fun-filled career:
Aside from competitive badger throwing, interning has become the most popular summer activity for many college students, but the importance of this cannot be stressed enough. And like competitive badger throwing, interning is the absolute best way to put your face and name out there even before you have a professional face and name. Getting a good internship, while challenging, is easier than getting a good job. And getting a good job is easier when the people who you want to hire you already know who you are. And getting those people to know you is easy if you intern for them. You see what I did there? Save a badger. Take an internship.
And I’m talking about the real, actual kind of social. Like, not in front of a computer on Twit-book at two in the morning in your underwear with a plate of Funyon nachos, but in a real space talking to real people. If/when you intern somewhere and you are asked if you want to hang out with the big kids after work, you say "yes." Get to know these people outside of the office, because the truth of the matter is that 90% of the people applying for a job are good enough for that job. The work goes to the people they like. I’m not saying to need to bring everyone a box of puppies and a dozen matchbox cars made out of fudge every week. Just be yourself. And send the puppies and car fudge to me, instead.
Be THERE, or Be… Unemployed!
You know that old saying “you have to be in the right place at the right time”? Well, you have control over at least half of that equation. And, no, I’m not referring to the time machine you’ve been trying to make out of old Pop Tart wrappers and computer speakers. If you want to be a writer, you need to put yourself where the action is. And depending on what kind of writing you want to do, that could be any number of places. Most people immediately think of New York and Los Angeles as the go to destinations for creative talent of any kind, but there’s plenty of writing opportunities in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and tons of other cities. You have to do your homework about where the hub is for the kind of writing you want to do, then you need to get your butt to that place!
Think Outside the Box!
Unlike professions like doctors, lawyers, and three toed sloth technicians, there is no set in stone way to get from school to employment. Your job is creative, and going about finding work takes just as much imagination. For example, many of the writers on SNL were performers at Chicago’s Second City theater before they landed their writing job for Lorne Michaels. Fashion bloggers have been hired by major magazines to become editors with no formal journalism experience. Even the guys who write those insightful quotes under the caps of Snapple are NOT required to actually consume Snapple. Oops, did I just rock your world with that last one? Well, get out of that box, and into a job!
What kind of stuff are you doing to further your writing career?