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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to BE a Writer

My friend and fellow Tulsa Night Writer, Chuck Sasser, talked at our monthly meeting about becoming a writer. Chuck is multi-published in the action adventure and military genres and has written both fiction and non-fiction with thousands of magazine and newspaper articles to his credit as well. Born to a sharecropper in Arkansas, he told his mother at an early age that he wanted to live many lives and write about all of them.

Indeed, he has done that. Chuck served with the Special Forces (Green Berets) in Viet Nam, was a war correspondent on several occasions, became a Miami police officer and later a Tulsa police detective, and rode broncs in the professional rodeo circuit. His adventures have included running with the bulls in Spain, hopping freight trains, scaling Mr. Everest, trips down the Amazon, hunting bears in Canada, and his current quest: looking for Sasquatch in various North American locales. He turns every adventure into magazine articles, book deals, and entertaining conversations.
In his book,
Magic Steps to Writing Success, Chuck weaves his life story with writing wisdom.
Here’s what he shared the other night:
Many people dream of being writers, but few have what it takes to BE a writer. For those with the drive and desire, success is attainable with these steps.
  1. Discipline. Many talented writers are never published. Successful writers are those who discipline themselves and write EVERY SINGLE DAY, no matter what.
  2. Inspiration. Good work doesn’t come from inspiration. It comes from constant, tedious effort. In pursuing this, ask yourself Why do you want to be a writer? For Chuck it was to see and experience many things so that others may share that experience through his writing. What drives you?
  3. Goals. Set attainable goals, but aim high. One of Chuck’s favorite quotes: “If you aim for the moon, you might at least hit a mountain.”
  4. Ideas. If you wait for your well to overflow with ideas before you use them, your well will run dry. Curiosity is the rain that fills the well. Who? What? When? Where? How? Explore everything in your world with curious eyes and ears. Use details in your writing, and your words will ring with authenticity.
  5. Craft. How can you build a house if you can’t use a hammer or know a rafter from a ceiling joist? You can’t write a good story while consciously thinking about how to apply the techniques. Learning the craft is essential. Learn well and often.

    Five steps. That’s it. Chuck has made a living as a full-time writer for twenty-nine years using these steps. Thanks, Chuck, for the insights and encouragement


Erica Vetsch said...

Thank you, Carla for sharing Chuck's wisdom. He sounds like an amazing author.

There sure are no short cuts to success in this business, are there?

The Koala Bear Writer said...

Great advice - thanks for sharing. Chuck sounds like quite the character! Yet many great writers were, as it gave them fuel for the pen. My dad always said that lots of people talk about writing a book... very few ever do it. Those are the writers.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

Thanks for sharing Chuck's advice. These are words to live by. Many people approach writing as if 'to be a writer' is the dream. The reality of a writer's life involves actually having to write. There are no short cuts.