What else would you add to the list?
Well, my youth is over.
I’ve become the “Big 3-Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-how-did-that-happen-so-fast?”
I’ve been writing professionally for a lot of those years. Here are a few things I’m glad I did before today rolled around.
And please share: What would you add to the following list?
- Subscribe to Cosmo. Don’t be a magazine snob. Cosmo will teach you everything you need to know about writing headlines.
- Learn how to play an instrument. You’ll learn how to write rhythmically.
- Freelance. If you’re a journalist, you’re constantly pitched stories. See if you can pitch one of your own.
- Write in a different country. When everyone around you is speaking a different language, what would you say on paper?
- Get yourself invited to cover some fun stories. My Ragan.com editor and I spent a summer covering the best galas in the city.
- Hey, single ladies: Go to a bar with a notepad. You’ll be surprised at how many dudes will start talking to you.
- Take a writing class. Not everything you write has to be about corporate communications.
- Enter an award contest. Be proud of the work you’ve done.
- Maintain your portfolio. Dust off the stories you wrote for your college newspaper. Keep adding your most recent work.
- Stop confusing whom and who; choose and chose; this and that. You’re not in eighth grade.
- Develop a network of writers. You’ll need some support and people to share ideas with.
- Help out with a nonprofit. Even though it’s great to get paid to write, it’s even better to help an organization that needs your skills the most.
- Keep a journal. It’s the only time you won’t be edited. [Editor’s note: I heard that.]
- Quit your job for a year. Sometimes, you just need to take a break from the keyboard. In between my stint at a newspaper and working for Ragan, I hopped on a double-decker bus and gave tours of Chicago.
- Keep a pen and paper with you at all times. Inspiration isn’t waiting for you. It pops in and out, hoping you’ll pay attention to it.
- Write the script for a video that goes viral. Looking for inspiration? Click here.
- Join a book club. If you can’t find one you like, start your own.
- If you work from home, buy a walking treadmill desk.
- Write stories that will make your parents proud. This one about my dad’s diverticulitis wound up in my local newspaper.
- Read “On Writing Well.”
- Don’t forget how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. I became a writer out of necessity—to avoid math. But it can be 100 percent embarrassing if you’re always using your calculator at restaurants to figure out a 20 percent tip.
- Be a mentor to your interns.
- Write a thank-you note to your favorite teacher, editor, or mentor. You didn’t just “become” a writer. Most likely, someone special gave you that extra push. [Editor’s note: You’re welcome.]
- Protect your wrists from getting carpal tunnel.
- Go to a writing workshop, talk, or conference. Shameless plug: Ragan has some pretty terrific ones.
- Post a really poetic Craigslist missed connection.
- Write the most awesome wedding toast ever for your best friend’s writing. Everybody else will be drunk and rambling, but you’ll know exactly what to say.
- Don’t forget how lucky you are. Sure, other careers might lead to corner offices and more money, but how many other adults get to create something new each day?
- Write outside. Ideal scenario: Watching the sunrise.
- On second thought, if you get up early enough to watch the sunrise, just watch it. You don’t have to write about everything. [Editor’s note: Happy birthday, Jess.]
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