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The Young Writer\'s Outlook

by The Editor Company, 1910   


There is an excellent opportunity for the bright young college man or woman who has seen something of life, and who can tell his or her own experiences in vivid and cohesive language, with flexibility and refinement; who can, in short, make a good story. A promising field for literary work lies in the feature sections of newspapers. Articles which are timely; not exactly news of the day, but sketches and essays upon subjects appealing to the public taste; which are not necessarily to be printed on the day sent in, but that may conveniently wait two or three weeks before publication, are good practice and one of the easier methods for earlier successes.

Regular newspaper work is excellent as a training for later literary ventures, provided that it is not continued too long, so that the mind becomes stiff, running in an unoriginal groove without elasticity or delicacy of imagination. As an aid to facility, dexterity of thought, and rapid writing, journalism may be of much assistance in interpretation and productiveness, and brings the individual into touch with varied experience in life, which can be used for material in more serious work. There have been men who had good talent in the beginning, obliged for the sake of a livelihood to continue in newspaper work so long that the ability to write anything well, beyond the daily work to which they had always been accustomed, was lost.

As to any suggestions for a course of study as an aid to writers, it does not make the marked difference one might suppose. The whole matter of literary genius is a gift, and however much the talent may be cultivated into better and fuller habits of expression, through reading and studying masters like Robert Louis Stevenson, which may be helpful in a degree, it does not, of course, produce a Stevenson or a writer equaling him in caliber. The essence of mind and understanding is needed as an endowment of nature. A writer would do best to ascertain the trend and depth of his particular abilities, attempting to expand wisely the most effective and suitable expressions of his ideas in his own individual methods.

In relation to any drawbacks a writer might have who failed to meet success, that is a hard problem to solve. One might as well try to tell why five men only, out of a hundred in any given occupation, succeed in business, as statistics state. It may be competition is so strong that only a few chosen ones will be favored, and the wares of others may not be needed, and must lie idle. The fault is at the door of over-production, possibly. There are so many, many writers. Then, too, a person may select an old exhausted subject or theme, as, for instance, one like "How to Run an Abandoned Farm," a ground which has been entirely written over, and he is, therefore, not in. touch with the period in his selections of topics. It is possible that he may be so persistently unfortunate as to present his manuscript to the wrong publishing houses.

There seems to be very little interest in studying the needs of the special publication to which manuscript is sent. Great care should be taken in studying the style and methods of a publication, that the material sent to it may be in touch with its policy. The talent is often sufficient, but the judgment is lacking. The best field for a young author, especially one in whom sensibility and imagination exist, is undoubtedly fiction.