Many writers I've talked to have expressed irritation or dismay when the idea of writing non-fiction for a living comes up: "Why would I want to lower myself to writing something so formulaic and boring?" They say. "It can't teach me how to write a good novel."
I used to think the same thing too, but the great thing about a college Journalism program is that almost everything you learn for writing news stories is also applicable to writing fiction. As my professors like to say, good writing is good writing, regardless of genre or style.
So for the people who don't have the money, the time, or the desire to study language and writing at the post-secondary level, there's really only a few things you need to know:
1. Be concise.
This is probably one of the most crucial rules in Journalism, but it applies equally to fiction. Legendary author Stephen King famously credited his Journalism classes for helping him learn to write well in his memoir On Writing.
2. Choose your words wisely.
Journalism has also taught me how to summarize hundreds of words in only one sentence or even a few words. It's a fact that people have short attention spans. Journalism helps expand your vocabulary and your understanding of strong and active words to help you better convey your message. This will help writers particularly in writing abstracts or query letters to entice publishers to represent your work.
3. Don't get sued.
Pretty self-explanatory. Just don't steal stuff from other people. It's not nice.
What outside experiences have helped make you a better writer?