How to Become a Writer

One of my friends on Facebook said his nine year old son wanted to be a writer and asked if I had any advice for him. I’m not at all sure I have been successful enough to give anyone advice on anything. But I do know one or two things about writing. First, if you expect to make a living from writing – don’t give up your day job. Oh, you hear about the Harry Potters and the English pornography writer’s “Shades of Gray.” Those two women are making millions. But you never hear of the excellent writers who NEVER get published. Flukes and trends and fashions come and go, but in writing the big payoffs are rare.

Second, writing is hard work. Writing fiction is even harder. Writing GOOD fiction is extremely hard. And even if you are successful at it and sell lots of books if you figure the hours of lonely work you put into it you will find that your hourly wage works out to be less than that of the man who picks up your garbage.

One thing that has always struck me as odd: Almost everyone who is not a writer thinks it is easy. Now, I would never presume to tell a doctor that I thought I might try brain surgery just for fun. Nor would I inform a lawyer that I was thinking of trying some capital crime cases in court because it is so easy. Yet, I have been to numerous cocktail parties and when people find out I am a professional writer, at least a half-dozen will come up and say, “You know, I’ve been thinking about writing a book about (fill in the blank) because I’ve had such an interesting life.” Sure you have. And I know the public is just yearning for you to put it all down on paper. Good luck, pal.

But this I know for sure. Writing well takes two things: First, a God given talent for it and lots of practice. I know I could never be a concert pianist because I have no talent for the piano. But I know I can write and always have and I know that the more I write the better skilled I will become at it. And finally, there is one sure bet that is spelled out in the tag line at the head of my web page by Josh Billings. The only real reason for being a writer is that you cannot help it. You MUST write. And if you do have a modicum of success I can promise you that there is no joy like that of knowing that something which sprung from your imagination has given enjoyment to another human being. It is a feeling that money cannot buy.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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