21st April 2021

How to Be a Writer: Do The Work and Get Writing

how to be a writer

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.” – Ray Bradbury

Do you like to write? Or do you avoid writing?

I have to admit to being a little confused when I hear a writer talk about how much they want to be a writer and write a novel or a screenplay or a memoir and then they don’t actually write. Does a photographer avoid picking up her camera? Does a musician go months without practicing? Of course not.

For a lot of years I worked in advertising writing, producing, and directing television commercials. I worked with some amazing account executives and I was fortunate enough to be included in training sessions when they had them. My job might have been creative but it also included selling my clients on commercial concepts that would increase their brand recognition and sales.

One of the training sessions I attended was all about getting more sales. The advice was simple. Make calls. Make many more calls. Make many, many more calls.

The more calls you make – the more sales you make. A top salesman doesn’t make a call – get a no – and then sit around complaining about how they didn’t make the sale. No. A top salesman brushes off the no and gets back at the job. Put simply – she does the work. She doesn’t sit around talking about how hard the work is.

I think that same advice applies to writing or to any skill or passion. You have to do the work. Don’t talk about how much you want to be a writer – become the writer. Write every day. Dedicate time to your craft. Write, rewrite, edit, and write some more. Doing the work doesn’t guarantee success but not doing the work guarantees failure. Do the work.


Also by James:

Marketing for the Arts: Lauren Thompson & Lunchbox Theatre

The Hemingway Solution, Parts Unknown and Anthony Bourdain

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

James Hutchison is a playwright specializing in comedy romance and mystery. He has a B.A in Sociology from the University of Calgary and an Honours Diploma in Television Writing and Producing from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. His commercial television work has received recognition from Worldfest Houston, The Television Bureau of Canada, and The Telly Awards. In addition to his playwriting James also interviews other playwrights, actors and directors about the business and creative aspects of theatre production. James is a member of The Alberta Playwrights Network, Theatre Alberta, and the Playwrights Guild of Canada and currently lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he writes plays, walks his dog Zeke and has never tried to keep up with the Kardashians.

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