Do not become a writer

2012-08-29 07:13

I regularly get emails and Facebook messages from people who have read one of my columns and are interested in becoming writers.

I imagine that this is because they think that it is a life of fast cars, expensive alcohol, models, a grateful public and lots of money.

My advice to you if you’re attracted to the glamour of writing is: Do not become a writer.

There is no glitz. There is no glamour.

I have no idea why anyone would read my pieces and think I’m living it up like Hunter S Thompson or Spider Jerusalem.

The most glamorous thing I ever do is drive somebody else’s nice cars.

Other times it’s shoulder cramps, burning the midnight oil, two-minute noodles and very cross editors.

I’ll let you into a little secret.

The process of actually typing out copy is painful.

It takes me about an hour to write 600 words – and that’s because I keep going back to clean up the copy.

Think of it as those stupid essays they made you do back in high school – you have to do this every day for your bread and butter.

The feeling of having written is one of the most delicious in the world, but writing itself is hard.

Forget about weekends as well. In journalism, you never leave the office. Not if you can be reached by phone or email.

It’s even worse if you freelance – and I do both.

Don’t forget that unlike, say, accountants, a writer’s work is always in the public domain.

It means attracting a lot of attention to yourself and very little of it is positive.

Stay far away if you don’t have a thick skin.

You also don’t get paid much as a writer, compared with other vocations.

This is a fact. Forget about a comfortable lifestyle if you’re just starting off.

I admit that I got lucky very quickly, but that’s not guaranteed.

You’re far more likely to get stuck in some airless office producing copy for an insurance advertisement than you are of writing about fast cars.

There’s also the possibility that you’re a crap writer and no one will hire you. Funnily enough, I enjoy myself enormously despite everything.

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