Tip Jar

Writing Tips from Amanda

Writing tips from Amanda V. Wagner

Writers and those who are forced to take a writing course at some point have heard similar tips for success. Tips like, “Don’t use clichés and trite language,” when any magazine you open abuses overused idioms and god-awful puns. As a writer, I’ve composed my own list of rules that have guided me through my career. Coupled with my habit of compulsive doodling here are my writing tips.

Tips one and two by Amanda V. Wagner

1. Be a Writer Even When Someone Tells You Not To Be

Someone will undoubtedly tell you not to be a writer. That person can be your mom, your cousin, your bartender, or whoever. For me, my boss (in a publishing department mind you) told me not to pursue a career in writing. As a person just starting her career, this was a message that re-focused my romantic views. Yes, having a career as a writer is difficult, but fuck it. EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO DO IS DIFFICULT.

2. Read a Lot!

Read on the train, during work hours when you are bored, before bed (even if it’s not great for your eyes), and when you wake up. Read when you are high, when you are drunk, and when you are high and drunk. Read when you hate your parents, when your partner broke up with you, and when you having a one-night stand. Just read!

Tips 3 and 4 by Amanda V. Wagner

3. Defend a Logical Argument; Not Just Your Opinion

Very few people care about your opinion. Opinions are unreliable, and are informed by perspective and experience. Constructing a logical argument based on facts and surveyed opinions is key. Communicating a message efficiently, and defending a thesis, involves posing a well-rounded argument.

4. Some Edits Deserve Push Back

Your name is in the byline. Do not let anyone strip something you think is integral to a piece out of it. There are times where you have to let your darlings die, but there are also occasions where you have to come to your own defence. Again, this is your piece if there is an edit that you wholeheartedly believe adds irreplaceable value to your piece, fight for it. BUT (and this is a big but) knowing your limits, and fully understanding what is and isn’t pertinent to your work, takes a ton of time and a few heartbreaks.

Tip 5 by Amanda V. Wagner

5. It’s Okay to Read the Comment Section, but Always Overlook Trolls!

I cannot tell you how many times I have been verbally attacked in comments on online articles. I’ve been accused and abused, but after your first cry you realize that it is a choice. I know writers who avoid the comment section all together, however mining for questions and constructive commentary is important. Go ahead and interact with your audience. Just know that if a comment starts with name-calling, you should roll your eyes and scroll down.

Tips 6 and 7 by Amanda V. Wagner

6. Don’t Mimic Your Heroes (doodle misspell) For too Long. Find. Your. Own. Voice.

It’s okay to go through a Hemingway phase and write in brief direct and unembellished sentences, but please get over it. You are not going to be Hemingway, thankfully. Find your own voice.

7. It Is Okay to Befriend the People You Interview After Publishing Them.

After an interview I would feel conflicted. The interaction seemed short and artificial. We were there for a purpose. I wanted my questions answered, and they wanted me not to misrepresent them. My approach, to bring comfort to both parties, was to befriend my interviewee. Often this method resulted in actual friendships. I felt overwhelmingly guilty about befriending those I interviewed. “As a journalist you are supposed to be calculative and exact, not friendly and approachable,” I thought to myself. In time I understood that it was beneficial to forge friendships.

Tip 8 by Amanda V. Wagner

8. Avoid Using the Word “Unique”

Just don’t. Urgh.

Amanda is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. Her work has been displayed at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, featured at festivals, and in events with Fait Du Vide Collective. Amanda has published with Philly.com, the Philadelphia Daily News, Art Attack, and VICE Media. In her spare time she likes to drink and draw naked ladies.

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