So you think you’re a writer. Or you think
you might want to be.
Maybe you think it’s an
easy way to make a living. After all, all you do is sit at a keyboard all day, turn out stuff, sell it, pay your taxes, and
count the bucks. Stephen King does it. So does John Grisham. James Patterson, Tess Gerritson, Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon…you
can probably name many more.
Sure, those guys make the big bucks. Have you
ever checked to see how long they paid their dues by writing for nothing, by studying, by sending out articles and getting
them rejected? Try it some time. Call it research. You may be surprised.
It is possible, however, to be
a writer if you have no aspirations to be a novelist. Writers do all kinds of things, from writing news releases for their
local civic club to writing copy for newspapers, magazines, web pages and advertising agencies. And no, a college degree is
NOT a requirement for being a writer. Admittedly, it does help by getting your foot in the door. But once inside, you’ve
got to show your stuff.
There are a few requirements,
however, that have nothing to do with college. Maybe not even high school if you’re gifted enough.
In my book, the first is a love
for words: written, spoken, used, looked up, the way they sound rolling off your tongue, the beauty of their rhythm as they
convey what you’re trying to say, an insatiable need to know more words, better words, a better way to use words.
Second, you can’t be a writer
unless you’re first a reader – of everything from cereal boxes to novels. That includes newspapers, magazines,
comics, whatever. Just read.
You won’t learn everything
you need to know in this column but it will be a start. If you’re interested, stay with me.
(NCWritertoo is a retired journalist who worked as
a writer for over 25 years. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)