the soft compulsion of constant consumption training

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10 Pieces of Advice for Young Writers


  1. Care about things. Show it. Be funny, barbed, and pointed when needed. Slick is easy; don’t be slick.
  2. Confidence and arrogance will both protect you when people yell at you. One is vital and one is poisonous.
  3. Learn to be your own devil’s advocate. Interrogate your own arguments. Interrogate your point of view.
  4. Successful writers can play loud and soft and can make a variety of harsh and gentle sounds, just like great musicians.
  5. Look at the people whose careers you admire and think about their paths. Don’t assume you want the fast lane.
  6. If you are read widely, you will get blowback, no matter what. Don’t let it paralyze you, but don’t reflexively blow it off.
  7. If you try to make your fortune creating controversy, then even if it works, you’ll be expected to keep doing it.
  8. Being young doesn’t make you dumb or smart, important or irrelevant. But you’ll be a different writer in 20 years.
  9. “Win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful.” Obey deadlines and house style.
  10. You are entitled to be wrong, to feel embarrassed, to feel like a jerk, and to keep writing anyway.

[as told by NPR’s Linda Holmes]

11. (perhaps too obvious) write something new every day/give yourself wordcount goals.

12. Fake it ‘til you make it.

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