January 3, 2019

5 Tips For Young And Emerging Writers

By Ruth Tam

Writers: how often have you been told to “write what you know”?

Generic writing advice is so often repeated it’s become a joke in the New Yorker. But do young or emerging writers feel boxed-in when they hear the same lessons over and over again that prioritize certain kinds of writing styles? Today on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, we’ll explore what it takes to write fiction, and what resources the Washington region has for new writers. One of our guests, Zachary Clark, leads 826DC, a nonprofit chapter that provides writing support to young Washingtonians.

Check out Zachary’s writing advice, and leave your own in the comments section!

  • Write with friends. Like the company of others? Indulge your social inclinations by practicing collaborative writing exercises. You’ll be surprised how many ideas can be sparked when writers put their heads together. Our go-to is playing the “exquisite corpse” game, which has its roots in the Surrealist movement of the 1920s and is much less terrifying than it sounds.
  • Let the story mountain be your guide. For very new writers, viewing your narrative as an arc of a “mountain” can provide a framework for understanding the core tenets underlying a story. From introduction through conflict to resolution, it offers a handy blueprint for building even the most fantastical of plots.
  • Learn how to self-publish. Writing for an audience can be a powerful motivator, and you don’t need a literary agent in order to start sharing your work! Explore zine-making, a DIY publication of original writing and artwork. It has a special history in D.C. And the best part? All you need is paper, a photocopier and good ideas.
  • If one door doesn’t lead you to your story, open another. When one writing strategy doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try something new. Take a cue from your favorite graphic novel and create a visual storyboard. Or jot down field notes throughout the day and return to your observations for inspiration. Set a stopwatch and write continuously without worrying about coherence. A blank page can be intimidating for even a seasoned writer; finding your way into a story in these ways makes the practice of writing more accessible.
  • Write every day. Even a single sentence counts.

For a conversation on local writers and writing advice, tune into The Kojo Nnamdi Show on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 12:20 p.m. EST.