Make awesome stuff now. Don’t wait your turn.

Ann Friedman in #Realtalk for the j-school graduate on the first five years of your career. Friedman was most recently the executive editor at GOOD magazine, until nearly everyone on the staff got fired for “strategic reasons” (but we expect more good things from them). She wrote the piece for Nieman Lab, and her tips are very useful. Here are our favorite excerpts:

via Nieman Lab:

Write something short every day. Don’t wait for an invitation to write for a major publication. Or even a minor one. Invest time and energy in the spaces you control: your blog and Twitter account. (I’m assuming you already have both of these things because you are no fool.) Use them to dash off quick opinions and keep track of things you’re interested in exploring at greater length. 

Write every piece three times. And I don’t mean three drafts. I mean you should be pitching and writing every idea, with three similar but not identical angles, for three different outlets.

Read good articles twice. If you read something you love, ask yourself, “Why’s this so good?” Then read it again. One of the most valuable exercises in journalism school is picking apart pieces by established journalists to figure out how they did it.

Read the publications you want to write for. Read them religiously.

Learn to write headlines, even if you don’t want to be an editor. Headline writing is about distilling complicated ideas and selling what’s sexy about a piece. This is also called, “being good at Twitter” or “effective pitching.”

Practice horizontal loyalty. Prioritize your relationships with people who are at a similar stage in their career. Yeah, it’s helpful to befriend accomplished older journalists, but it’s really the relationships with people on your level that will sustain you. Include all types of media people in your network, not just writers. Send your ideas and drafts to these people. Retweet each other. Connect each other. Collaborate on a short-lived but hilarious Tumblr, or apply for a reporting grant together, or put together a panel. 

FJP: Thank you, Ann Friedman. Also, here are some Michael tips from the FJP archives on the trade and grad school and all the rest of it.

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