At a time when so many people seem to be writing – with every man and his dog starting a blog – we’re also seeing a decline in the number of apprenticeship opportunities for emerging writers. Journalism is the most public form of writing where we see this decline in the demise of the print publishing industry, but on a bigger level, young or emerging writers are being asked to arrive on the scene already cooked. I don’t believe it’s industry driven, it seems bigger than industry; like Chinese whispers, with Chinese proportions.
“You’ve got to build a platform.”
I wonder how many potential writers have fallen on their own sword after using blogging – an entirely public form of writing – as their apprenticeship? How many have given up while trying to climb the sheer face of the social media landscape, where quantity seems to override quality, and without the guidance and reassurance of having a mentor.
Michael Leunig articulates the dilemma for emerging creatives perfectly:
“Sometimes I feel for younger people now. There are so many powerful influences, so much glamour. In the face of that, how do you hold on to your originality, your inner sense of authenticity? Because that really is your ultimate strength. There’s a pressure to be slick. You’ve got to market yourself now. It’s hard to have your fumbling experimental thoughts, your vulnerable thoughts, your half-formed inconclusive ideas, but they’re vital. It’s vital to stay with it. Keep something really important for yourself to develop slowly and don’t be afraid of your vulnerability. That’s your creativity. Know that it’s right. Know that’s the way.” Michael Leunig, in frankie #49
How does one cultivate a sense of individuality, of intuition, as a newbie on the stage of the world wide web? How does one begin to hear and know the intricacies of their own voice in the cacophony of the Twitterverse and the blogosphere?
If I had my day again, I’d write a manuscript first, build a blog second. What do you think?