Natalie Reed’s advice to “aspiring writers”

Natalie Reed just dispensed some very good advice to “aspiring writers” on Twitter, which I’m going to compile into one big block quote rather than embedding one tweet at a time (but initial tweet here):

You know… sometimes I feel like ppl trying to figure out how to “become” an artist/writer/comics-creator/musician is the saddest thing.

There is no structure. There is no heirarchy. You work, you practice, you try, you don’t give up, and you MEET ppl, you move forward you do small things that lead to medium things that lead to big things, but the sad truth is that “aspiring X” tend to remind “aspiring”. Just, you know, BE an X, and make that work on the level you can.

And then build it forward from there. You’re not going to be “discovered”. A cold solicit isn’t going to get “accepted”. You need to have the tenacity and commitment to work through from where you are, and build your OWN career forward.

There are NOT editors who spend all day looking through the GIGANTIC slush piles of cold submissions to find that one magical thing. I *was* an editor. We fucking HATE the slush-pile. We approach it with disdain, even though the ONLY reason for approaching it at all is a spirit of ethics and fair play and “just in case”.

You cannot depend on “being discovered” or on cold solicits or on aspiring. You go out and you make your shit happen with what you have. For yourself. Through work. And you BUILD.

I wish someone had told me this when I was in college. I was making some half-assed attempts to become a writer through what I imagined were the proper channels, while pouring hours and hours into a blog that I viewed as just a hobby, or at best “practice.” But it was the blogging that eventually led to all the stuff I’m doing right now. In retrospect, I can claim my current situation is the result of years of hard work… but that’s not what I was going for at the time. In a way, I really lucked out.

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  • miller

    I often wonder if successful bloggers really have sufficiently representative experiences that they can give advice based on what they did and what the outcome was.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Part of the point is that there is no representative successful writer. The representative writer makes no money at it.

      Representative. Successful. Creative-type. Pick any two.

      • miller

        Okay, got it.

  • Eric

    The quote that I’ve always heard but never quite remembered exactly is “There’s a difference between wanting to be a writer, and wanting to write.” Most people have the former, but the people who end up being writers are the ones who have the latter. Applies to most other creative endeavors too. (In my case, it was always being a musician that appealed to me, but I never seemed to want to actually practice.)

    • Chris Hallquist

      Love this.