Tag Archives: writer

6 Crucial Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Do in College

English majors, whether you are one or know one, are among some of the most belittled and questioned students (right next to art and theater majors), facing a massive amount of competition. English majors may think they are at a disadvantage, but there are a lot of steps that they can take in college to build themselves as a writer. With all the online exposure to articles today, there is a need for English majors to practice their creativity and style. They should take full advantage of opportunities to improve their skills if they want to overcome the hardships of being a writer. Below are opportunities, inside and outside of college, that all English majors should strive to partake in.

Join an online platform for writers

It will not only help you express your creativity with writing, but it will help you practice it overall. Writing essays for classes certainly helps, but not always being able to pick a topic and having to write with an often harsh set of rules doesn’t allow for much freedom. Writing something because you have to is what we’ve all been doing throughout school, but the difference in your thoughts, style, and imagination when you write something you want to is amazing. Every English major has been used to writing because they have to, and although they enjoy it, it’s nothing compared to freely writing on your own schedule. Even if you don’t intend to have it published, and it’s just for fun, every English major needs to try to do this when they can. Additionally, writing for multiple websites can help you adapt to taking on different kinds of writing and developing a better feel for how to write for an audience.

Study literature

Many writers don’t pay attention to or consider how important the history of English was. It will help you appreciate English’s meaning and potential once you look at how it has changed over time. Many feminist writers, for example, had to work ten times harder than female writers today to get known, and some even had to pretend they were men to get their work really well recognized. Learning about the differences of making it as a writer back then and today will make you appreciate the new opportunities us writers have today and you will know to take advantage of them more. Shakespeare might seem redundant to most people, since none of us today will ever be writing in that form, let alone writing plays. However, Shakespeare goes to show that writing can be impactful for hundreds of years. Many of his works are relatable today, despite the fact that the writing is extremely outdated.

Don’t sell yourself short

Every English major will hear “What are you going to do with your degree?” or “Don’t you know how hard it is to make it as an English major?” at least a few dozen times throughout college. You may feel, at times, discouraged, but research all the different careers English majors go into, and you will feel a lot more hopeful. Many English majors go to law school, and many get jobs completely outside of the typical English specific workplaces. You might be thinking in terms of simply writing for magazines or online publications. Many English majors have been conditioned to think they will be working solely among other writers, whether by society or their classes, without thinking how useful an English degree can be in many other branches of work. Many writers work alongside engineers, scientists, and software developers, so don’t think you’re not capable of doing beyond what you thought you’d do.

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“Writing for multiple websites can help you adapt to taking on different kinds of writing and developing a better feel for how to write for an audience.” Photo from: https://0.s3.envato.com/files/134116777/Writing%20Lines%20Preview.jpg

Be as opened minded as you can

When they are first starting out, a lot of writers unintentionally write for themselves, when they should be writing for their audience. What this means is that you’re focusing too much on what you want in your article, rather than considering what a reader would want. Our perspective on our own writing is completely different from a reader’s point of view. While you might like using fancy words to make your text look more sophisticated, your readers might get distracted or annoyed by the unnecessary amount of SAT words. Practice figuring out who your audience is going to be, and look at it from their perspective as you write what could either change lives or merely look good in your eyes.

Read everything you can get your hands on

Reading is obviously important for virtually anyone who wants to broaden their knowledge. For English majors, it’s also important for that, but even more important in helping them develop as writers. It’s incredibly important to expand your vocabulary, no matter what kind of writing you want to do. It’s optimal to read the writing that you aspire to do one day, but it is also beneficial to read all kinds of other styles. The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post are all great examples of legible sources that display unique and concise styles of writing. It’s also important to look at what the popular news sources focus on, how they deal with controversy, and how they (sometimes) organize such complex thoughts. Similar to writing outside of school, reading outside of school is important in the way that your view on it is different. As writers, we need to consider all types of writing, what we want to be as a writer, and how we can be unique among other writers.

Learn to accept criticism

If you want to be a successful writer, you need to learn not to care what others think of you. Being an English major is similar to an art major, in that you’re expressing yourself to the world, often times to many people you don’t know. You need to expect that there will always be people who disagree with your work or who don’t understand its purpose, all while learning more and more about communicating your thoughts in the most effective way. Knowing your potential, but also being aware of the possibility of criticism is essential when writing. Overcoming this will help you see past this. What you should focus on as a writer is simply the audience that acknowledges and appreciates your work because those are the ones who will help you advance, not slow you down.

With the amount of competition and creativity that comes with being an English major, it’s important to get as much practice outside of school as you do inside school. Being well rounded in different kinds of writing and on a range of topics is essential to becoming a writer. Classes definitely challenge us as writers, but outside of class, we have the opportunity to expand in ways we can’t with school. Following the above steps will get you well on your way to becoming a more confident writer who recognizes the potentials and challenges that every writer will face. Doing all of the above does not guarantee a higher-level job, but it will definitely advance you further into the writing industry.

Documentarian David Sutherland gives inside look at industry

Longtime filmmaker David Sutherland recently came to Radford University. He spoke to a directing and world cinema class, as well as at the COBE center reception. Sutherland has worked as a filmmaker for several decades. He obtained a degree in film making from University of South Carolina and has had a steady grip on the industry ever since. He mainly works on documentary films, although he refers to himself as a portraitist. Part of being a filmmaker requires Sutherland to serve as a writer, producer, director and editor. Continue reading Documentarian David Sutherland gives inside look at industry

1,700 written words a day. Could you do it?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and nanowrimo.org is challenging young writers all over the country to write a 50,000 word novel, about 175 pages, in 30 days. This year, Radford University’s English Club teamed up with the McConnell Library to sponsor a number of events to support writers who are up to the challenge.

NaNoWriMo is an annual creative writing project that takes place over the Internet and is organized by a nonprofit organization called the Office of Letters and Light. Chris Baty, who lived in the San Francisco Bay area at the time, started it in July 1999.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The first event had 21 participants. The next year, the event was moved to November because Baty felt the writers would be happier to spend time indoors writing if the weather was more “miserable.” That same year, a friend of Baty created a website and Yahoo! group for the event and 140 people participated. Each year since, the number of participants has grown exponentially. In 2001, 5,000 people participated, and in 2010, over 200,000 people took the challenge, with participants writing more than 2 billion words.

In order to officially participate, writers had to first log on and create a short profile on the project’s website. After creating an account, the writers had access to resources available on the site. Participants also had the option to join writing groups and write-ins in their area by searching the site’s directory.

The challenge doesn’t have many rules, but the few it does have are important. Writers can start typing away at midnight Nov. 1, and the novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before 11:59:59 p.m. Nov. 30. Planning and notes by the writers are permitted, but no material written earlier than Nov. 1 is permitted in the body of the novel. In order to “win” NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of 1,667 words a day to finish on time.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The site emphasizes a quantity over quality standpoint in this challenge. It doesn’t matter what gets written, as long as it gets written. They also highlight the fact that they do not expect the novels submitted to be edited or checked.

The official NaNoWriMo site does not store any novels. When writers submit a novel to the site, the word count is finalized and the novel is deleted immediately. If the participant reached 50,000 words, their profile will say so and they can access the winner’s rewards, but what they do with their novel at that point is up to them.

“The point of this challenge is to write; plain and simple,” OLL said in a “newbies” forum on the NaNoWriMo website. “Don’t under-estimate and don’t over-think. Don’t think at all: just write. Write until your fingers ache and you’re seeing double because in the end, you’ll have a beautiful thing. A novel, written by you.”

This year, Radford University is trying to get students involved. April Asbury is the faculty advisor for the English Club, which helped promote NaNoWriMo on campus this year, and she is also the municipal liaison for Virginia: Elsewhere, the region that includes Radford and the surrounding areas.

Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

The events at RU were held in the library, and everything started with a kick-off party on Oct. 31, hosted by Lisa Vassady on behalf of McConnell Library. The party had refreshments and motivating words for the 20-25 attendees. Vassady explained the guidelines of the challenge and also shared past experiences.

“People dropped by throughout the event, which allowed us to mingle, answer questions and demonstrate the national website,” Asbury said. “What I found most exciting about the kick off was that it brought together Radford University students, faculty and staff and community members.”

Then, in the first three weeks of November three “write ins” were held in classroom B in the library. Each write in was two hours long and offered participants a quiet place to concentrate surrounded by other people with a common mindset.

“There’s something energizing about working side-by-side with other writers, even if you don’t have time to socialize,” Asbury said.

The final event will be held on Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and is entitled, “The Thank God It’s Over Party.” Participants will be able to talk about their experiences over refreshments.

“People will be able to drop by and share their struggles and discoveries. Everyone is welcome to attend; even if people weren’t able to participate this time,” Asbury said. “They can always make plans for their own writing marathons and enjoy some coffee with us, too.”