Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Writing Reality Part I

post by Jonathan Young
Trust me . . . Jonathan Young is way
more savvy when it comes to writing
than he is photogenic.
I don’t usually do guest posts on this blog but when I come across something that will benefit the reading masses of Writer Off the Leash, then doggone it, those rules fly right out the window.

So today, a hearty round of applause for Jonathan Young, editor extraordinaire. He’s hip deep in the publishing biz, namely as an editor for a local newspaper. Yes, they still have those. Sheesh.

I asked him what advice he’d give to an aspiring writer and he had lots to say. So I’ll just be stepping out of the way now and pass the microphone over to Jonathan . . .

My first piece of advice to writers is to make sure you're considering a career in writing because you love writing, not because you want to make a lot of money or become well-known — you're not likely to do either. I'm not saying don't shoot for the stars, but be realistic about your expectations.

Just to give you an idea, the starting hourly wage for an entry-level reporter at my company is around $13/hour. When I accepted my first full-time journalism gig, I had to take a pay cut — and I was leaving a job that didn't require a college degree to do a job that did require a college degree. Again, I'm not saying this to be discouraging, but to be realistic. For me, journalism has been worth the meager salary because I like what I do and I feel like I'm making a difference in the community.

Second, be open to various types of writing that will allow you to make a living. If fiction is your passion, that's great, but you'll probably never make a living at it, even if you write several successful novels. I initially wanted to write fiction. While I was in college, I discovered I was better at telling the story that was there than I was at making up an original plot. I discovered I enjoyed journalism more than I thought I would. Now that's how I make my living.

In any case, don't put all your eggs in the fiction basket — plan to pay the bills some other way, perhaps through a different kind of writing job. Or marry someone rich.

Some ideas for making your living in writing include journalism, technical writing (there's actually some money here) and P.R./marketing. Although journalists often mock the P.R. work as "the dark side," the fact is many journalists end up there eventually. There's also editing for a publishing house, though that is quite competitive to get into.

A lot of people ask me about the future of journalism and if there is one. There's no question that it's been a tough time for newspapers. However, I think there will always be a need for quality journalism, though it has become a more challenging profession and may continue to become so. I do, however, believe community newspapers will be around for a long time because we provide a service and content no one else does.



chappydebbie said...

Sharing :-)

Gail Helgeson said...

I'm still writing! Thanks for this blog! Confirms that I will write even if I never get published! It is my heart language! Love seeing your posts in my in-box. Makes me smile every stinkin time!!! Hugs..

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