One of the hardest things for an aspiring writer, or a new writer, is knowing where to go with their work. Moreover, for those of us who don’t have the ability to afford—right out of the gate—a prestigious literary agent to handle the work of finding publishers and entering the networking world through their connections, how should one go about writing? It must be known that networking is just as essential as the art of writing itself. In fact, it is even more imperative than writing that one has a network of other writers, publishers, and editors to draw upon precisely for the art of one’s own writing endeavors.
To college or university students who aspire writing, it is crucial that you glean the best information from your professors as possible concerning the writing world. If they are publishing, get to know with whom and how you can introduce yourself into your professor’s connections. This is one of the most undervalued aspects of a university education. Professors often have reasonable, to extensive, networks that students seldom take advantage of. Learn from your professors—especially if you are going to have a four year or more relationship with them.
Additionally, find other writers and publishers in your environment. This may be other students who have had success in writing. This may be friends of yours that have had success in writing. Writing can often seem like a solitary endeavor. After all, behind the screen and on a word or pages document, it is! But writing and publishing is not an isolative endeavor. Without networks and connections, you severely limit your writing potential because no matter how much you do write, if you have no one to review it and no one to send it to, all your writings will just sit on your computer drive. By networking with other writers, or people with writing connections, it is like discovering a river taking you to a new destination—the places that can publish your work and begin disseminating your thoughts to the world.
In networking and coming to know others in the writing world, getting to know editors is a must. Editors serve multiple purposes for writers. First, they give a writer a home if they like and value your work. Their journals, magazines, newspapers, or publications become the cornerstone for your writing ambitions and careers. Second, the connections that editors have cane become your connections through good relationships or even friendships. For example, I’m a writer and editor. Friends of mine whom I consider high quality writers suddenly have access to my connections: connections to publishers, connections to other editors and publications, connections also to other writers. Third, these editors can vouch for your quality. Perhaps you start, as I did, and as I tell students, to write short essays and other short articles that are easier to begin publishing than full-length manuscripts. When it is time to publish a book, these editors can serve as the endorsers of your book providing needed endorsements to your work and also being a connection for your book review. Lastly, editors—if they really like your work and grow familiar with it over years of writing for them—may very well offer you paid positions (pending the nature of the publication) when those coveted slots open up (that has happened, for instance, to me).
While writers like think they are, individually, exceptional and gifted, the reality is: You’re Not! Understanding that you need help, need connections, and need networking to be a successful writer is one of the most important realizations for any writer to come to understand. You cannot do it alone. In fact, all the truly exceptional and gifted writers know this: this is why they have extensive writing and publishing networks that they can draw upon. Only after achieving these connections and networks do they get the freedom to truly discover the full extent of their potential.
Writing networks serve as the bridge to your future pasture. You cannot build the bridge yourself. If you try you will spend your entire life doing that. Instead, find the bridges that will help you cross into the writing paradise on the other side. When you’re finally there, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. The last of advice, which seems straightforward but you’d be surprised how many writers do not take it: never turn down opportunities even if you don’t think you have the time. There is nothing more foolish to aspiring writers than to decline offers for book reviews, contributions, etc., when they are starting out because You Don’t Think You Have The Time… Then make the time! There is nothing more self-defeating than turning down opportunities. Only when you have an established reputation can you become more selective in where you wish to spend your writing time.
Hesiod, Paul Krause in real life, is the editor-in-chief of VoegelinView. He is writer, classicist, and historian. He has written on the arts, culture, classics, literature, philosophy, religion, and history for numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of The Odyssey of Love and the Politics of Plato, and a contributor to the College Lecture Today and the forthcoming book Making Sense of Diseases and Disasters. He holds master’s degrees in philosophy and religious studies (biblical studies & theology) from the University of Buckingham and Yale, and a bachelor’s degree in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.
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