Tips for Aspiring Paralegal Writers –
Honing Your Inner Seabiscuit
By Jamie Collins
Are you an aspiring paralegal writer? Let me rephrase that -- would you like to be an aspiring paralegal writer? Are you waiting for the paralegal clouds to part and the legal writing gods to welcome you into the coveted world of the legal writers’ kingdom? Perhaps you’ve always enjoyed writing and the title of this article caught your eye, but you can’t say you are “aspiring” to write, per se, at this juncture. Perhaps you should! Answer these six simple questions to determine if writing is for you:
- Have you always possessed a natural talent for the written word?
- Do you enjoy writing papers for classes?
- Have you received high A’s on nearly every paper you’ve ever written?
- Do people often compliment your writing…and often?
- Do you enjoy writing and working to lure people into your written work?
- Have you ever pondered writing in a professional capacity?
I’d say if you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then chances are, you may be an aspiring writer. It’s something you should at least consider.
If you would like to write in a professional capacity, but feel intimidated or clueless about how to get started, you probably find yourself cloaked under a false misconception about delving into the writing world. Perhaps that’s why you haven’t tried it yet? Don’t make the mistaken assumption that new writers just “charge” out of the gate, charging past all the other writers with all the glory and full pomp and circumstance of a Triple Crown Winner at the Belmont Stakes…all, of course... in a majestic display of poise and confidence, kicking up dirt behind them, as they lap past the competition in the writing derby and dash off to inspire the world. Let me assure you - that’s not the case. The fast track may be for a select few writing thoroughbreds, but for everyone else, it’s a little more like the story of Seabiscuit -- the infamous race horse who liked to pull forward from the clear back of the pack (way back), the end of the charge, propelled by a fury of guts and desire, and making up ground one carefully placed foothold at a time. It’s more like that. Don’t allow the majestic thoroughbreds of the writing world keep you from honing your inner Seabiscuit if you think writing may be for you.
I’ll never forget the first time I decided to swallow my self-induced writing fear. I officially volunteered myself for my first “real” writing gig, which consisted of an article for a monthly newsletter to be published by a leading paralegal education group. It was a paralegal pointers article that would be bequeathed upon paralegals from all across the country via their in-boxes. Cool, right? I was excited about the endeavor and quite pleased that I had taken the initiative to ask for a writing opportunity…and even more pleased they had acquiesced, until I made a critical, novice writer’s error. What error, you ask?
I decided to peruse the sample articles sent to me for review by the publisher. They had sent these past articles to me in anticipation of my future creation of brilliance and that’s when it happened -- I read the past writers’ bios. Bad move! Don’t read the bios if you are an aspiring writer. They are as intimidating as hell. You’re new and you’ve never written a single professional piece in your life. The worst thing you can do is read the bios of other writers that came before you. Why? Because these “other” writers all have a way of absolutely and completely glorifying themselves to the utmost degree of human possibility, using a vast array of articulate and well-crafted words to portray themselves as a gift to the writing world. After all, they are “writers.” They clearly have a gift. My advice? Don’t read the bios. It serves no purpose, unless you really like psyching yourself out before a big endurance marathon. Read more.....