Are you a writer? Then you need goals like anyone else. To kick-start the New Year, Johann has outlined the 5 most important writing goals to keep in mind – on top of ever-continuous writing, of course.
It’s always a good time to start taking your writing more seriously, especially if you hope to write professionally. You can put yourself and your writing in a much better position this year by following these 5 steps. Start the year with an upper hand by establishing yourself online, developing your identity as a writer and building a portfolio.
1. Start a Personal Blog
Not sure what a blog is? Check out this video:
A blog is a necessity if you want people to know who you are and what you can do. Your personal blog is a catalogue of the writing you produce, showcasing your best work and giving you a face as a writer. A professional and comprehensive personal blog is;
- An online space to show potential employers the kind of work you do.
- A place to store all of your writing.
- A way to showcase your writing interest and focuses.
- A great way to learn the skills of tagging, linking, sharing your work or otherwise developing an online presence.
- A way to motivate yourself to keep contributing new additions to your writing catalogue.
I’d recommend setting up your personal blog through WordPress. Setting up your blog on this site is very easy, as is customising and updating it.
2. Develop a Strong Identity
What puts you apart from other writers? What can you write that others can’t? These are important questions to consider if you are going to develop a unique identity as a writer. Spend time thinking about who you are, what you can offer that other writers can’t and what your ‘brand’ of writing is. A strong identity will give you an edge over other writers by giving your writing a distinct and memorable personality. This is something readers respond to and editors look out for.
You can work on your identity by thinking about;
- The kind of writing you want to produce, and focusing on that.
- How your background, skills and interests give you a unique perspective and channel this into your writing.
- Who your readers are, how they read your writing, and what they want to gain from it.
Go through the work of your favourite writers and notice how they incorporate their personalities to enhance their writing. Consider what makes someone stand out and what you could draw from to set your writing apart.
3. Start Building Your Portfolio
A portfolio is different from your personal blog. Your personal blog is your online home, showcasing your personality, online presence and a comprehensive collection of your writing. Your portfolio has a specific function: to represent you as a writer, for example to an employer or university when applying for a position. It is your professional resumé, and must include;
• Your personal information.
• Your employment history.
• Your writing focuses and interests.
• Your objectives as a professional writer.
• Examples of your published work.
• Examples of your best unpublished work.
Building a portfolio now will allow you to avoid having to rush one together when you start looking for work. To your employers, it is the first and most important reflection of you as a writer. Having a professional, up-to-date and appealing portfolio will be integral to your success as a writer, so it would be best to start working on yours now.
No writer starts out their career by being headhunted. You will have to take your career into your own hands. Send emails to your favorite magazines and newspapers to see if you could intern with them for a week. Start relationships with companies you would want to work for by getting in touch with their editors and asking how you could get involved. Send your writing out to places that publish freelance work. Try all avenues, and always keep your goals in mind.
4. Getting in Contact with Publishers
Most casual writers wouldn’t believe how willing large publications are to get in touch with young writers. Publications such as Mens Health, Getaway and Sunday Times may appear intimidating to a young and inexperienced writer, but most of these companies would agree to hosting you for a week long internship. Internships are a great way to familiarise yourself with the writing world, give you experience in a functioning newsroom and give you a realistic idea about the writing focuses you are interested in.
Having the confidence to email editors and ask to spend a week with their writers has landed me in important press meetings, following freelance photographers to big political rallies and even having stories and photographs published in national newspapers. Submitting your writing to publishers is a good way to showcase your potential and relevance to their publication.
Get in touch with the publications you would like to write for. Building a relationship with these companies now puts you on their radar. Even if you don’t get any work from them, that relationship may see you being established with that publication in the future.
5. Collaborating With Other Writers
Personally, I don’t like the idea of people my age writing about my interests. It feels threatening, especially as I begin to think about these people and their portfolios as my competition. But working with others actually represents a great opportunity.
Surrounding yourself and working with better writers opens you up to collaboration, exposes you to other writing styles and makes you a connection in the writing careers of others. Being part of a network of like-minded writers makes freelancing a much more sustainable career option and will contribute to the diversity of your writing focuses.
The writing world isn’t made up of competitive personalities, all fighting for the same jobs and headlines. It’s a network of creative’s who intermingle and work together, and the networks that do the best are the ones with strong relationships.
In essence, it’s time to focus on:
1. Your blog.
2. Your identity.
3. Your portfolio.
4. Your relationships with publications.
5. Your relationships with other writers.
The sooner you start getting involved in the writing world, the sooner you will have a solid position in it. Get writing and get your writing out there. Make this time count so that your writing gets read and you get known as a writer as soon as possible.