Matt Yglesias on student writing and the Internet:
The thing that you have to do if you’re in college is start doing the work. Follow writers you like on Twitter and use it to interact with them. Write your own blog, and even though it probably won’t have many readers take it seriously and write it like it’s intended to be read by total strangers. If you do internships, try to do them at places that hire young people for writing jobs (i.e., not the New Yorker). Think about what would be a good place for a first job, not a place where you’d dream of ending your career. If you do a post critiquing something someone you respect wrote (me, for example) then send an email and explain yourself—you might get noticed. If you get ignored, don’t get discouraged—you might suck, but the guy you wrote to just might have been busy that afternoon.
I’m going to add that writing faculty should be encouraging these activities, and that writing faculty should be taking part in them as well. Obviously.
And old draft that I was never able to get back to and complete:
There’s nothing like being temporarily freed from a responsibility to remind us of our neglected other responsibilities. The first Tuesday in a while that I didn’t have to be on campus found me walking the fields with the dog and thinking of obligations I had set for myself that I had not met – foremost being the duty to post regularly to the blog on my job search, on writing, and on life on the farm. The first two can wait, as it is the last I’m prepared to do now. But I was thinking about writing in general, too–writing as fulfilling certain goals rather than an end in itself. One of the primary goals of writing is not only the transmission of knowledge, but its acquisition: through the process of solidifying one’s thinking into a formalized sequence of thoughts, that thinking becomes a bit externalized and is itself the object of critical thought, and though that self-reflexive and self-critical process is certainly possible without the concrete act of writing, it is not possible to the same degree. One not only becomes aware of the content of one’s though, but its limitations, both accidental omissions and places where it has not reached–has not reached or cannot reach. Continue reading