Breaking into the writing industry and sector can be a tricky business. Where stories age and alter faster than Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it is understandable that a career path in the journalism or writing industry can be a little daunting. However, do not fear! I quizzed a couple of writer acquaintances of mine about how they broke into the world of writing, and how you can do it too.
Now I am presuming you like to read, or maybe write on various topics of interest if you are currently reading this post. First of all, well done and thank you, after all without its readership writing would be redundant. So let me first introduce you to a friendly, chirpy and quick-witted writer, Nick Jury. Hailing from Scotland, Nick is an Edinburgh based writer and journalist. Upon asking him what first attracted him to journalism and writing, his response was both honest and frank: ” I was taken on a visit to the Edinburgh Evening News by a family friend who was one of their top reporters when I was 10. I was doing a project on communications and he took me to meet the editor and see how the paper came out – this was in the days of hot metal still – and Mt St Helens was erupting at the time. it was coming over the wires and I was one of the first people to know about it. From then on I wanted to be a reporter. ” So reporting was always something that was of interest, and when asked whether he could start his career path again, and would he still opt for journalism? Without hesitation, – “Yes, I would. It’s all I’ve wanted to do.” This proves the point of ‘if you want something enough, you’ll find a way to get it/make it’.
However, there seems to be a certain air that arises when discussing ‘I want to be a journalist’. Sometimes the hard work and determination that is needed to get there is overshadowed by the image of reporting and writing in a glamorous environment, similar to a scene from an American film starring someone like Jessica Biel or Reese Witherspoon. The perks of writing? In Nick’s opinion there are none. “No seriously, you get to meet lots of different people from all walks of life, some on the best and some on the worst days of their lives. It gives you the best opportunities. We don’t get into journalism for awards or money but because we love it.” The last sentence of quizzing him drummed home how the issue of writing differs from person to person, and how some don’t write because people read, but people read because others write.
Let us now move across to Digital Spy movie-correspondent Ben Rawson-Jones. A Freelance writer whose efforts include tweeting on behalf of BBC superpower shows The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off, Ben has been the creator of many a hilarious tweet fest. This is a prime example of how breaking into any sort of writing can rely heavily on social media and the readership from its followers and fans. Some of you may have even found this site through Twitter or Facebook. Asked about his experience “It’s the third series I’ve been running the social media on The Apprentice (it was non-existent before I was involved) and it is good fun on the whole. It is very busy and manic on the nights when the show is broadcasted, but I do a lot of preparation and know the episode very well in advance, enabling me to focus on the feeds rather than the television. ” Preparation is key. Knowing your stuff and your audience is also helpful, and this strikes me as something that is not only true to writing but social media promoting in itself.
We all know that aspiring to be a writer does not always equal tabloids. As a movie reviewer Ben has stated the perks include “The free bar and food that some PR agencies provide beforehand. Plus you see films well in advance of the public usually, so you have the chance to occasionally discover a masterpiece before any hype or expectation has kicked in”, showing that doing something you enjoy can always bring further enjoyment itself. Has Ben also always wanted to pursue a career in writing just like Nick? “I always aspired to be a creative writer, which is not what I am doing – hence a current career frustration as what I am doing is very much second best (even though I know I’m privileged to be in that position).” An honest answer that highlights how vast but flexible a writer can be with their skills.
A final note for you aspiring writers out there from Ben and Nick themselves: For Ben his words of wisdom for aspiring writers is to “never lose track of what your original aspirations and goals were – and avoid finding yourself lodged in a comfort zone.” and to do what you can to enable your work to be published – and with a byline – even if it’s for free. This enables you to build up a portfolio of work that you can send potential employers. For Nick he advises to “always keep writing, ask questions, read as much as you can and always remember the basics. Who, what, where, when and how? And never let someone tell you there’s no story. The job description of the journalist is to ask questions and scrutinise the facts. And always, stay honest.”
I guess the main crux of these interviews and discussions is to keep trying, try and try again. If you want something enough, you will eventually find a way to do it. As for me? You may have read some of my other posts on here, and you may have not. If you’ve enjoyed this post, feel free to have a look at my other work, after all, I love writing but I love those who read it even more, and isn’t that the main point of writing at the end of the day?