How do you become a writer?


Writers Corner

Rusty Strait | Senior Reporter

I came across a book in my vast library, written by a Santa Barbara Writers Group. Writers love to be discussed, so I’m sure they won’t mind me paraphrasing some of their work. The question was: “How does one go about becoming a writer? That is the eternal question. According to the author of the book? You might as well ask, how do you go about becoming a human being, whatever that is. What kind of writer do you want to be? Sci-fi writer, historical fiction writer, romance writer, or mystery writer, which is pretty much the same way you go about being a normal writer. We love to tell our stories. Writing is a lifetime love affair that never ends in divorce. You may separate from the art from time to time, but you always have that yen to get back in the mix.

Public libraries have been the incubators of newborn writers. Only at the library can a new writer feel at home. He or she will parse the shelves, the stacks of books on tables, and fiddle around until something catches their eye. They may glance through a book, skipping through the pages and catching a paragraph here and there. It is only when they find that one book that they really idolize that they may find it is the kind of manuscript their brain would like to concoct.

You might be surprised at how many well-known writers I’ve run into at public libraries in New York and Los Angeles. No matter how well-received they are in the literary world, it is the library that has always been their native land. Go try it.

Now, I had a message from Janice in Beaumont. “I read your column every week, and the way you write sounds so easy, but when I go to my computer, I’m all thumbs. How do I get over that?” I don’t have a solid answer for that.

I know when I was in radio school in the Air Force, I learned typing. It was required. I fumbled around until I learned which fingers hit which keys for a word. We had a sentence that we kept repeating over and over to adjust to which fingers went where. “The little red fox outran the hounds to grandmother’s house.” That is something I still practice when my fingers get fidgety.

Rusty Strait

As I’ve said time and time again, anything really productive takes time, patience, and hard work. Learning to write is no exception. Just remember one thing: the more you read, the more ideas roam around in your head. Think of it as a brain Ouija board. You might just get the right message and be on your way. Good luck. Just sayin’.

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