sleepyhollowjacks asks: I was reading your chain of tweets about Paxil and had a question. One of the conditions that...
It’s good that you’re in college, and you have the freedom to experiment right now. I would try to write lots of things and see what you like the most. I started out writing poetry in college, and then I switched to studying fiction. I’ve worked on so many different types of projects over the years, essays and articles and advertising copy and even a pop-up book, and I’ve learned something new from each experience. You should try everything.
Also, obviously read a lot. Read and read and read. If I’m not reading, it’s really hard for me to be writing.
Travel if you can. I know not everyone has the money to do that, but it is worth saving up for trips because you just learn so much when you gain a new perspective. I spent my junior year of college abroad and it opened up my mind in a big way. Maybe drive cross country? Even just taking the bus to an unfamiliar part of the city can shift things in your brain.
Also: talk to all kinds of people. Eavesdrop. Go to museums. Fall in love. Break somebody’s heart. Get fired. Get drunk. Be kind. Basically just live your life to the fullest and read a lot and write a lot. That’s a good place to start.
I stumbled a lot, and will probably continue to do so, but I always keep an open mind and try to experience new things. I bet you’re already doing all the things you’re supposed to be doing. I didn’t write my first book till I was 32 years old. I led quite a life before then and I don’t think I was really ready to focus on it until just that time. But everything I had experienced contributed to my writing.
There’s no math to becoming a writer. You either are one or you aren’t one. You either have the ambition and the discipline, or you don’t. It’s up to you to do the work. But I support you!