The Non-Grad-School Path to Writing

Another way to become a writer is to skip grad school and simply start writing. Find a mindless job that takes little of your mental energy but pays enough to buy health insurance, rent a room, and provide yourself with groceries, and use all your spare time to put words on paper (or disk). If you download Third-Act Trouble and do a keyword search for Cyclades, you can read about how I carved out two years to write in West Berlin, working for, variously, the American, British, and French armies. None of those jobs required much mental energy, so I had plenty to bring to banging out three terrible novellas on my little manual German-language typewriter. After two years of that, I returned to the U.S. and on the advice of my father’s friend, himself a writer, got what he called, “any job that will pay you to put nouns and verbs together.” Search in Third Act Trouble for the keyword “skyrocket” to read how I took no experience and no talent and from those built a career as a reporter, which led to freelance magazine and book writing.

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