Whenever students asked me why I became a journalist, I told them that I always wanted to be a writer ever since I was in high school. I loved to read (I’m a mystery buff so I bought Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie books), and I enjoyed it so much that I knew even way back then that I wanted to tell my stories to the world.
Having the dream, however, is just the first step to reach my goal. The next few steps involves working every day to attain that dream. I spent hundreds of hours writing in my journal and working in campus newspapers so that I can tell my stories and get them published so that other people can read them.
I know that you have this dream too. The spring break is the ideal time for you to take that first baby step to become a novelist or a magazine editor in the future. After all, you have a choice now to spend your time with your writing and not having to deal with term papers and examinations.
Here are seven things that you can do this spring break to improve your writing:
1. Join a teen writing camp – the only way for you to know if the poem or essay that you keep hidden in one of your files in your computer is of any good is to let someone else read it. When you sign up for the writing camp, you’ll get the opportunity to have your work reviewed by peers and mentors (writing teachers and professional writers). You’ll also get the chance to explore other ideas, develop your own portfolio and get some tips on how to submit your stories to teen magazines.
2. Enroll in an online writing course – this is an alternative to writing camp and ideal for those who might be traveling but still want to brush up on their writing. These online courses run for about six weeks and like writing camps, you’ll also get your writing pieces reviewed by your peers and a teacher – but this time via the Internet. Enrolling in an online writing course is also more convenient as it gives you the time and space to learn at your own pace.
3. Get yourself a writing coach – another option is to get yourself your own online writing tutor. This is someone who can coach you one-on-one and give you a more detailed critique of your work. Having your own writing tutor also means that you have a mentor all year-round.
4. Brush up on your grammar and spelling – you might be the most imaginative writer, you might have a lot of ideas, but if you can’t even construct a sentence without proper subject-verb agreement then there’s no way that you can produce a story that people will want to read.
5. Read more – I can’t stress this enough. If you want to become a writer then you have to read a lot. How can you develop your ability to tell a story if you have no clue at all about plot, character or dialogue.
This time, however, you can chuck out everything in your required reading list and just read what you enjoy reading – sci-fi, paranormal romance, chick lit. From there, take the time to read more deeply. These are some questions that you might want to answer to figure out for yourself what’s the story is all about enabling you to learn how to construct the story:
a. What is the problem that needs to be solved in this story?
b. Who are the main characters and how does the author describe them? How do they speak, act, think?
c. How did the main characters solve the problem?
6. Hang out with your favorite authors online – most of your favorite authors are now blogging to connect to their net savvy readers. They also give updates on Twitter and have a Facebook fan page with tons of followers.
Go read their blogs, leave comments, ask questions on how they write – most authors are willing to help aspiring writers. After all, the only way for anyone to grow as a writer is to share what they know.
7. Set up your own blog – and have the discipline to maintain it by blogging at least once a week. Writing is a craft and to improve your craft, you need to practice.
The good thing about blogging is you can get to write whatever you want, while at the same time give you a chance to share what you write to your readers.
About the author: Prime Sarmiento is a freelance business blogger. She writes on learning and the craft of writing for Ahead Interactive (AI). AI offers online tutorial and test preparation programs for students in primary to tertiary levels.