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‘I’m In My 20s And Want To Be A Writer. What Should I Be Doing Right Now?’

The brutal truths nobody tells you about launching a writing career when you’re just a few years out of school

Janice Harayda
Lit Life
Published in
6 min readMar 5, 2024

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Sucess Ahead road sign
Road sign by Gerd Altmann / geralt on Pixabay

Edith Sitwell was said to recline briefly in an open coffin before she began to write each day.

Her habit suggested a truth you seldom hear when you’re in your 20s and hoping someday to write novel or a cover story for Wired. There’s no right way to be a writer: There’s only your way.

Sitwell’s bizarre habits — of which relaxing in a coffin was only one — didn’t keep her from becoming a leading English poet and critic of her day. Given the British affection for eccentrics, her quirks may have helped her.

In your 20s, you’re assaulted with so much advice on writing, it might bring on a quarter-life crisis. You hear clashing instructions from books and articles and from friends, relatives, and authors who parachute into your local bookstore for an hour or two before heading to their next stop.

Someone tells you to get an MFA degree while someone else urges you not to waste two years and $60,000. You know of an author who swears by self-publishing and another who thinks nothing…

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Janice Harayda
Lit Life

Critic, novelist, award-winning journalist. Former book editor of the Plain Dealer and book columnist for Glamour. Words in NYT, WSJ, and other major media.