Category Archives: Aspiring Writers

“Do I Need a Degree to Become a Writer?”

question“Do I need a degree to become a writer?” It’s an ambiguous question I get most often from writers who want to be published. The answer is “no”.

Do you need a degree in English, creative writing, journalism or literature to become a published author? “No.”

Do you need to study the craft of writing to become an even better writer?

There are many paths to publication. Sometimes work or study in a field other than writing sparks a person’s desire to write and leads to a writing career.

Harper Lee studied law in college. What she learned in Law School led her to write To Kill a Mockingbird, the Pulitzer Prize award-winning novel about a lawyer and racial injustice in the 1930s.

830664Barbara Kingsolver wanted to be a classical pianist, but instead she studied biology and earned a Master’s degree in ecology. She transitioned into writing freelance as a help to editors. On her website, Kingsolver writes, “. . . editors knew they could send me into a biotech lab or epidemiology office, where people seemed to be speaking in tongues, and I’d come out with a printable story in lay-person’s English. I was glad for my training.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a medical doctor who supplemented his income by writing. His Sherlock Holmes character made Doyle one of history’s most famous mystery/crime writers. Doyle said Holmes was inspired by the real-life figure of Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, whom Conan Doyle met in 1877 and had worked for as a clerk.

51eubGSrthL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Kurt Vonnegut studied anthropology, but was unhappy with his college classes. His wife, his first muse, encouraged him to write. After becoming famous, Vonnegut spoke up in support of writers with non-literary backgrounds. When he heard writers talking about sending notices to college English departments about literary opportunities, he suggested, “Send them to the chemistry departments, send them to the zoology departments, send them to the anthropology departments and the astronomy departments and physics departments, and all the medical and law schools. That’s where the writers are most likely to be…I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature.”

Finally, I offer myself as an example. No, I’m not famous or even a well-known writer, but I’m published and happily self-employed freelancing. I studied music in college. In my sophomore year, I switched my major to elementary education. A required children’s literature class led to a Master’s degree in library science. I loved writing, but I hadn’t thought to pursue it as a career. I submitted several writing samples to Golden Books in Wisconsin, and I was offered an editorial job. I learned the business of publishing there and then I set out on my own to freelance.

Do you need a college degree to become a writer? No. But to get published you need talent, willingness to learn by self-studying the craft, practice and, of course, patience.

Write and learn.
The world is your classroom. 


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Is Getting Published a Matter of Luck?


Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here, and along with it comes wishes for luck. Maybe you’ll buy a  lottery ticket hoping to win the big prize. Maybe you’ll find a rogue and lucky four-leaf clover tucked among the shamrock plants at the garden center. Or maybe you’ll send your query letters out on March 17th wishing for luck to get your book published.

But what is luck really?
The Oxford English dictionary says luck is:

Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Are you relying on luck to get published? If so, you’re playing an endless game of wishing and hoping. Luck is something outside your control. It’s the toss of a coin at the beginning of a football game.

Let me suggest something better. FAITH.
Oxford defines faith as:

Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

That sounds better than luck, doesn’t it? And better yet—Faith is something within your control. You can control how much faith you have in your writing skills, and you can control your confidence in your ability to learn. How? By thinking positively and by trusting God to lead you.

sb5ciWell-known authors have relied on the power of faith. E.B. White, winner of many awards including the National Medal for Literature, a Pulitzer Prize, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

In the introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron writes: “Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance—often visible to us, but invisible to those around us. Difficult as it is to remember, it is our work that creates the market, not the market that creates our work. Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it.”
This applies not only to artists, but also to writers and anyone else engaging in something creative.

Every word. Every sentence. Every paragraph
is an act of faith.

imagesSo, on this Saint Patrick’s Day I don’t wish you luck! Instead, I pray that you embrace the power of faith.

You have it in your heart to write. Add to that, faith in your God-given ability and confidence in yourself. Keep moving toward your goals. Stop wishing and hoping. Just believe.



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and inspiration for writers.

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*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.



Filed under Aspiring Writers, Encouragement, Inspiration, Movtivation, St. Patrick's Day, Uncategorized