This one out there is for all the students. All of us adjuncts and professors generally celebrate that day we turn in our final grades. But I remember what it was like to be a WLP major at Emerson College and have the semester end. Suddenly, all that inspiration and support I was getting from my classes, teachers, and peers dropped out from under me. How was I to write without the workshop or the professor telling me who it was best for me to be reading? Here’s some advice for the writing student in that position:
1) Don’t wait for inspiration! I had a million of my professors tell me this in college, and they were right. Sometimes, sitting down to write because you are a writer and you know you need to write is just as– if not more– productive as when you get the bug.
2) If you’re back home with your family after living away from home for the semester, use them as your subject-matter. Most everyone has a family, so it’s a highly relatable subject-matter. Plus, you might discover something about your parents or siblings–or self– that you didn’t know until you wrote it down.
3) Start your own little workshop! The internet makes community-building possible and even easy sometimes. Use Google Docs or Google Groups– or tumblr, skype, or whatever floats your fancy– to organize a small group of people, those who gave you the best comments during your workshops or writer friends you have from other schools. Leadership is a quality admired by many employers, so be a leader and organize.
4) Volunteer for a lit journal outside of the one run by your college/university. Not all journals accept readers on a rolling basis, but find one you love and see if the editors are looking for additional reading staff. It doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst they could say is no–and it’s possible, if the answer is no, they’ll know another journal looking for reading staff.
5) Don’t stare at the blank page and mourn the recent loss of weekly writing classes. Get out there and enjoy your summer and have experiences that maybe later you can turn into great verse/prose. And get off the internet. immediately. Now, even. Go, get out there. It’s a great big world and your writing needs you to experience it. (If it’s raining, read something new and different!)
Finally, here’s an extra tip from Justin Lawrence Daugherty–winner of the GS 1st annual flash fiction contest, judged by Jennifer DuBois and Editor of Sundog Lit. You should check out his winning story, “Mermaids“, and then, after you are inspired, enter our 3rd annual flash fiction contest here. (If you’re a poet, we also have a poetry contest going!) Anyway, here’s your bonus advice on how to keep writing through the summer, despite the end of the semester blues:
*6*) Don’t self-edit as you write, even if you’re out of practice or writing what you aren’t happy with. Keep going. Let it be bad. Let it bleed. Revision is for making things better. Get all your ideas out. Don’t worry about the destination.