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Sunny Jong
Noodle Expert Member

February 24, 2020

Finding writing opportunities to enrich your literary background takes a special kind of resourcefulness, as they may be competitive or scarce. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true places to start!

When you’re passionate about something, it can be natural to become overwhelmed. For English majors who want to work in some theater of writing, this rings resoundingly true. I know from experience that it takes a bit more initiative and resourcefulness to find writing opportunities that will help you build a stronger, more marketable writing pedigree. Since simply doing creative writing on your downtime doesn’t exactly count as real-world experience, and because it often doesn’t compel employer and admissions officer consideration, it’s essential to have some credentials under your belt to demonstrate that your writing endeavors have value - credentials that in the writing industry, are primarily accrued through earning awards and being published. 

But say that you’re not already an accomplished writer and you don’t have prior experience in the publication space. You could start writing for competitions and submitting to media giants for publication. But since you’re writing against trained literary pundits with decades of experience and networking relationships, you probably won’t even hear back from your recipients. It’s not easy to be published in high-profile journals or on the LA Times op-ed column, and golden writing competition seals won’t just roll onto your doorstep. So for the moment, it’s best to start with more accessible options.

Start locally

Your school probably has a newspaper, a media/journalism team, and/or a creative writing class where you can hone your writing skills. All of these things help establish a baseline foundation for participants to discover their own voice, style, and interpretive spirit that is central to every type of writer. You can even use this experience to help you get into relevant (extracurricular) opportunities like internships and volunteering organizations that cultivate the same skills! But perhaps more importantly, these spaces help you internalize the most important attributes of a writer: (1) being able to digest constructive criticism, (2) interfacing with different-minded peers, and (3) making visionary concessions to accommodate the creative directions of your project members.

Create a personal blog

It’s your choice if you want it to be a public or private space, but having somewhere to document and organize your thoughts is a great way to give yourself abundant training in editorial writing. What’s great about this option is that there is no criteria of what the blog should be about. Be it entertainment, beauty, lifestyle, diet, or social justice commentary, as long as you’re able to organize your thoughts and communicate them in a meaningful way, you’ll receive experience in understanding the literary and rhetorical techniques paramount to the entire writing department, as well as the training in a strong work ethic that you’ll need in the future to work under more pressing deadlines. It’s also often a relatively low-maintenance opportunity that you can easily juggle with other educational opportunities that will enrich your literary background.

Attend writing workshops to refine your craft and creative viewpoints

While they’re not always free, writing workshops and similar meetups are great resources for acquiring a more peripheral understanding of the multifarious nature of writing. You might get plot point ideas, helpful suggestions, professional insight into the publication procedure, and sometimes even make long-distance writing partners! If these opportunities aren’t in your proximity, there are also online variations of these programs that you can sign up for. These are immensely helpful, especially to new writers who might not have any prior knowledge about what “rules" of writing - creative or professional - that they should follow to avoid undermining the quality of their content.

Needless to say, the litany of viable writing opportunities that can enrich your literary calling goes on, but for the most part, these are the most prominent ones that function as the best launching pads into what you want to pursue. As trite as it may sound, the proverbial phrase “don’t give up!" is famously overlooked for being a thoughtless and uninspired pleasantry, but for writers, there’s no one else who will tell you this as much as you need to tell it to yourself. Being rejected is a literary rite of passage, and the best way to internalize and improve upon your writing is to embrace your shortcomings. So really, don’t give up!

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