Be a better writer: Read everything, including comments
I’m sure you have heard that in order to become a good writer, you must be a good reader.
I spend most of my days reading sports stories from all over, but I don’t restrict my reading to only sports. I read a bit of everything so I can see how different writers present their stories. It is also helpful if you read the same story from different writers. It is very interesting to see how one idea can be presented in various ways.
Reading isn’t only about getting information. When you read a story, you learn from the author. That gives you an opportunity to learn from a professional, and you can pick up something new each time. You can read a piece over and over until you fully understand an author’s voice, perspective and style.
The B/R Sports Media Internship has taught me there’s a lot you can learn from reading the comments as well.
Readers can give you a different perspective or point out something you missed. Many of them point out your mistakes nicely, but there will be people who do not. My advice for handling people who seem rude is to sift through their comment and find what exactly it is they found offense with. This is sometimes very difficult because the negativity of some statements is very blatant.
I try to remember that these people are just really passionate fans who don’t want to read anything bad about their favorite team. You can’t take the comments personally. Yeah, it hurts your feelings, but you actually become a stronger writer because of it.
If you want to be a good writer, you have to read everything you can.
You’ll read good articles that will show you how writing should be done, but you will also come across bad articles. Read those as well. You’ll see what mistakes that author made and learn from them.
You’ll read glowing comments that encourage you to keep at it, and you’ll read vicious comments that are hard to ignore. Both come in handy as you move forward.
Sportswriting isn’t for everyone, but if you want to be the best, you have to learn from everyone you can.
* * *
One Thing You Need to Know is a series in which we ask our interns to write about just that: One thing they’ve learned in the B/R Sports Media Internship that they would pass along to other aspiring writers.