Growing up, I always wanted to be on the other side of the articles I read, the one doing the writing, but it always seemed unreachable, impossible, and overwhelming… especially as a young writer.

Last year though, I came across an article on The Tempest and I fell in awe with its raw narrative style and its mission to disrupt the norm. Once again, I yearned to be on the other side and, by sheer luck, I came across a form to apply for their Spring Editorial Fellowship 2019.

Today, I’m here. A year later, a year older, on the other side of some of the articles I read and with five pieces of advice to every other young writer starting out:

1. Reach out to people who you know are a part of the company you want to write for, even if you don’t know them.

A baby penguin waves in greeting.
[Image description: A baby penguin waves in greeting.] Via GIPHY
I was incredibly lucky to have known someone at my school who could help me with my application process. That said, don’t ever hesitate to message people at the company itself and ask for guidance! As young writers starting out, we become so determined to make it on our own, almost as if we need to prove ourselves ten-fold to feel like we belong among the older and more experienced. I felt the same way.

Even today, a year after being a part of this wonderful community, imposter syndrome attacks at times. What combats it is improving and knowing that your ideas are important. If I’d never have reached out, I may have never applied. Sometimes, you just have to ask.

  2. You’re going to need to word vomit. A LOT.

 A cartoon gnome is spewing rainbows from his mouth.
[Image description: A cartoon gnome is spewing rainbows from his mouth.] Via GIPHY
There are many writers out there capable of organizing their thoughts and penning them down with very few edits. I, however, usually run through mutiple vomit drafts and see myself doing it 10 years down the line as well.

Sometimes, your first draft will be wonderfully raw and exposed, the way a chilly wind feels after rain. And sometimes it’ll feel like quicksand and sludge and you’ll need to become a writing architect to transform it into a sandcastle. There is beauty in both routes. It works, just don’t stop drafting.

3. Articulation can be a bitch.

A woman with dark, curly hair looks confused. A bunch of animated question marks bounce around her.
[Image description: A woman with dark, curly hair looks confused. A bunch of animated question marks bounce around her.] Via GIPHY
Sometimes, your fingers will be stuffed with emotions and words, words that you so carefully want to type out. You’ll want to explain the eccentricities of the chocolate box village, the reason fairies glow, why she cut her hair, etc. All these emotions and words will be bubbling over the surface and you want them to resonate equally with your readers. So it can be so disheartening when your first draft doesn’t reflect the depth you found yourself writing from. It’s tough but it’s okay.

Tell the voice whispering “you’re too young to be a good writer” to sod off and try again.

4. Find your writing style, and don’t let anybody change it.

: A group of seagulls sitting on a lifeboat shouting, 'MINE!
[Image description: A group of seagulls sitting on a lifeboat shouting, ‘MINE!’] Via GIPHY
Flexible yet formal? Factually informal? More than anything else, a writer’s style is their biggest weapon. Craft it. Hone it. Use it. It can be a combination of anything – simply discursive or abstractly argumentative.

The point being, don’t let anyone trick you into thinking your writing style isn’t good enough. And no, I’m not talking about presentation, grammar, and punctuation. I’m talking about the bones of your writing, the voice that carries it. If you can be confident in that and allow your voice to carry the message you truly want to share, the authenticity will always show.

5. And finally, the struggle of writing something, you don’t feel is good enough. It is. It is.

A cartoon blonde girl says, "This is getting good."
[Image description: A cartoon blonde girl says, “This is getting good.”] Via GIPHY
I’m talking about content, not style.

I recently wrote this article on skincare acids. I spent quite a while on it, doing extensive research, finding reliable sources, and facts. It’s something I’m super interested in – writing it was easy. However, when it came time for it to be published, I found myself feeling like the topic itself wasn’t important enough to put out there.

I couldn’t help but feel, that in the grand scheme of everything in the world happening right now, skincare acids are so trivial but you never know who your words will touch and how they will resonate, so take that chance – your voice matters.

It might seem scary, this feeling of vulnerability that comes with unleashing your voice. It feels almost paradoxical for vulnerability and power to co-exist but your experiences, your voice, your thoughts are what makes those words mighty.

  • A writer, journalist and editor, Sahar is on a mission to write words that’ll make you stop and smell the (metaphorical) fires of the world. A life long Gryffindor and avid murder mystery reader/watcher, Sahar is fascinated by science, literature, history and how they interlink with each other.