Monday, August 27, 2007

What's Required to Be a Writer and advice on training) (part 2 of what I might say tomorrow)

Here's some other stuff I'm hoping to tell the kids tomorrow, about being a writer:

What's Required to Be a Writer?

1. You should like to read. A lot. Good writers are good readers. It doesn't really matter what you read, just that you read.

2. Like to write. A lot. Some people want to be writers, but don't actually enjoy writing that much. It's a chore for them. If it's a chore, why not do something like accountanting or manage a grocery store, or something that will actually pay you for doing your chore.

3. Be curious. About the world, history, people, books, language, stories. This cannot be stressed enough.

4. Be determined and persistent. Being a writer requires a lot of practice. And like anything, most people aren't very good at it at first. This creates a lot of rejection as you get started (and even later), and you have to learn to get past that to keep going.

Note that I didn't say that you need talent, or creativity. I think most people already have plenty of innate creativity. It's just part of being human. We have it, and if you let it come out, you'll find it. As for talent, that's not really something to worry about yet.

Advice for students (mostly about training).

If you want to be a playwright (note that this is different from if you want to write books): Do lots of theatre in high school Take writing classes, acting classes, tech classes. Be in plays. Work backstage. Write lots of plays. If you still love theatre when high school is over, study theatre in college. Study everything about theatre. The more you know about theatre, the better plays you'll write. The more involved you are with the theatre community, the more your plays will be produced. Working in theatre is a full-body, total immersion experience. Someone once said about playwriting, "You can't make a living, but you can make a life."

If you want to write books:
In high school: read lots of books, keep a journal, and learn about things that interest you, in depth. Learn to speak another language.

In college: don't major in creative writing, though do take creative writing classes or minor in it. Instead, major in history, economics, biology, architecture. Studying journalism has some big benefits, because it teaches you to ask questions, write quickly and clearly, and explore many different areas of the world. Learn as much as you can about everything, so you actually know something about reality. Become fluent in another language. Travel. Hold odd jobs. Read a lot. Make friends with other writers, especially writers who are better and older than you.

That's it. Any questions?


leues said...

I've been trawling the net for concise advice, without the bias of someone trying to sell me a course! OR sell anything. Your words are concise, inspiring, accurate, and understandable.

patrick said...

Thanks. The kids really responded well to it. (It's just as useful for grown-ups, too, I think.)