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Writers After College

What You Needed to Know During College if You Wanted to Be a Writer

After college, you're excited and ready to head out into the world. If you've been writing like I have for years, you're ready to put your creative ideas into production. However, if you're still in college or just started, here are a few tips.

1. Get published.

I wish I had known this when I started my Master's degree, even when I did my Bachelors. Getting something, anything published is important for your future job interviews. As you go through a writing degree, you'll put together a portfolio of work. These will be polished and approved by your professors, but they won't be published. There are lots of magazines that publish short stories; you can start there. Also, any newspaper or magazine that needs short stories, or a publishing house that publishes novels or novellas is a good place to start too. Basically, you want at least three publications under your belt by the time you graduate. I didn't have any publications and have had a very hard time finding work that didn't require them.

2. Save all your work.

Save any work ideas you have during your college years. Any story ideas that didn't make it in the final edit. Even though you can't publish anything you wrote for assignments during college, your ideas that didn't make the cut can be re-used, edited, and polished for later publication. Just because they didn't fit the assignment criteria doesn't make them bad ideas.

3. Be prepared for the "lazy fall."

After college there is this period of time where laziness kicks in. You've been struggling for four years or two extra and you're burnt out. Coming up with one creative idea after another can be tiring. Keeping a journal on your iPad or in a sketch book can be helpful. Any little ideas you have write them down. Later on, after the burnout has ended, they may turn into a story.

4. Don't be discouraged.

The economy today is challenging, be prepared to move away from home to go to work, especially if you are trying to get into the writing business. Bigger cities will have more work and be more likely to hire you. Your experience will work against you at first, but you'll get the hang of it sooner or later. Keep your portfolio and go back to it often. Don't keep stories written two years prior as samples of your work. It can evolve over time and if you have different years mixed together then your portfolio may seem unsteady or unfinished. At the same time you don't want several of the same genre. If you specialize in fantasy or action/adventure writing, showcase that as your main sample of work. However, include other genres you are good at as well. Fiction is an easy one as well as drama. Combined genres work well too.

5. Don’t stop moving forward.

After college we want to take a break. If you’re a writer this can make writing difficult. You don’t want to work yourself to death or spend hours at your computer trying to write. Instead, keep a journal and write down little things everyday. An idea, doodle, short story, and even your random thoughts can give you amazing ideas. Some of the greatest stories are inspired by real life experiences and tragedies. Fresh out of college means you need to keep your ideas flowing, artistic or not. Whether you’re a writer or an artist you need to keep things going. Writers, get your hands dirty and try some art, you’d be surprised how you’re inspired.

6. Everything will fall into place.

College is nerve wracking enough as it is, graduation from college can be even more terrifying because the safety net is officially gone. Now you’re on your own to find a job with the degree you chose. Most of the time you’ll get an entry level job in an area you did not study in. Any experience is really good for you because it will show that you work hard and are determined. However, if you work too long outside of your degree's area you could find yourself rusty when you get a job within your area of expertise. Volunteering is a great way to keep sharp while working in another field. Share your experience and help someone else learn. It also looks really good on your résumé.

Happy writing!

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