It's something I've often said to young writers: Study or work at anything but writing. Go lead a separate life, and learn or do something that will enrich whatever you end up writing later.
In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Iowa grad Anna North offers a different and compelling perspective. Here's a snippet:
I started writing nonfiction for pay in college, and I quickly found it a welcome escape from the sucking quagmire of uncertainty that was (and for me, often still is) fiction. Some writers find storytelling easier than the expository form, but in journalism and criticism I found a welcome structure and predictability.
If I put a certain amount of effort into a nonfiction piece, I was reasonably sure it would come out all right—I could sink a year into a novel and end up with nothing. And so I freelanced for magazines and newspapers throughout college, and in grad school I began writing for the blog Jezebel, where I still work.