Pop Matters has solicited words of advice to prospective music critics from current ones. The goal is 100 responses, and 3 sets have been posted thus far, organized alphabetically. The editor’s introduction picks up on a few patterns I’ve noticed in my interviews of music writers, including their typically negative reaction to being called “writers.”
There’s also a lot that should be of use to academics and teachers who work outside of music or the arts: be passionate, read good and bad writing to develop your own style, pursue ideas and not money, be educated about the jobs you seek (or the publications in which you seek to place your work), take edits gracefully but don’t expect all editors to be good, banish preconceptions, seek out alternative points of view, review your work and learn which of your own tics to correct, use spellcheck, and remember that good writing takes time.
If you’re just here for the laughs, I recommend Mykel Board or Bryon Coley, from the first set. Johan Kugelberg in the last. More updates as I work through the others.
Kris Ex is perhaps the one I love the most thus far, both for his humor and because he’s the first yet to address race and conflicts of interest. Chuck Klosterman is a good read: particularly helpful is his advice for how to draw out non-responsive interview subjects, and advice to start by interviewing secondary figures. Both are useful pieces of advice for qualitative social scientists.