While a college degree in writing has value, it is not a requirement for a rewarding career
Last week I talked about the appropriateness of hiring others to help us with our writing journeys. This has been a reoccurring theme in my career as a writer and my vocation as a publisher.
When it comes to written communications, I am self-educated: I am a self-taught writer, a self-taught editor, and a self-taught publisher. It’s not that I eschew formal education—I do have advanced degrees, after all—it’s just that they don’t happen to be in the field of communication.
I took one freshman writing class and one freshman literature class, both required in my engineering curriculum. That was it. I never suspected I’d end up working as a publisher, editor, and writer. Being an author was not part of my career plan.
Since I am decidedly finished with college I am left to design my own writing course, one propelled by real-world needs and bathed in actual application. This pursuit is both practical and effective. It includes:
Magazines: I subscribe to magazines about writing and publishing. These periodicals arrive with predicted regularity and feed me practical advice in bite-sized chunks. I look forward to each one.
Books: I also tap books for extended focus on particular topics. Though these are helpful, I have bought more writing books then I have read. Some are boring, and for others, it seems the authors are more concerned with impressing us than educating. Maybe it’s just me. Nevertheless, some writing books are most helpful.
Podcasts: Listening to others discuss writing is my go-to method of learning. I consume several hours of podcasts each week, listening to them while driving, doing mindless work around the house, and during lunch. They fuel me and give perspective.
Writing Groups: Being part of a writing community is a great resource, not only for learning but also for support and encouragement.
Online Courses: I also take advantage of online learning opportunities in the form of webinars and classes. The pinpoint focus of each allows me to pick topics of immediate, practical application.
Conferences: My goal is to attend two writing conferences a year. (This year will be three.) I look for those that provide value and are within driving distance (no airfare), and local (no hotels) is ideal.
Best of all, my educational path has no tests, finals, or grades. The only studying I do is actually applying what I’ve learned. I’m pursuing a self-directed writing education.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.