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And what do you do How to know when you re a writer





And what do you do?... How to know when you're a writer!   by Edward B. Toupin


It's the funniest thing. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I
tell them, "I'm a writer." The standard response is, "No, really, what do
you do?" Somehow, I always get lost in the conversation because I never
expect that type of response. I end up floundering in hopes of someday
finding a good response.

--- So, how do you know you're a real writer? ---

It has to be a certain look or smell that identifies you as a writer. Is it
the turtleneck and mothball odor that give it away, or perhaps its the old
blue jeans you wear for a week or two.

Generally, my rule of thumb is if you can sell your ideas and make money
writing, you're "a writer!" If you sit and write all day long and never
sell anything, then "you write." So, in summary: "you write until you
become a writer!"

But, this is very true! To become a writer, you have to write every day.
You should think of a dozen or so topics and write about them. This will
help you learn your style and develop your skills.

If you write, but are not yet a writer, here's an objective! Write, until
you sell something. Once you get the money, pay your gas bill. Now, you're
a writer! But, don't stop with just one article, keep going!

--- Hey Ed! Say something funny. ---

It just doesn't happen like that. I'm not a funny guy. If I sit down and
design something funny, I can be hilarious. But, I can't just say something
funny.

On the other hand, ideas are things that just happen. But, developing and
writing that idea takes work. The act of writing doesn't "just happen."

When writing about an idea, you have to research the idea to determine if
it's feasible. If it looks good, then you have to research it again to
become an expert---or at least knowledgeable on the topic.

The other point to writing is that, even as a Technical Writer, you have to
feel the writing. This goes back to one of my previous articles, "Natural
Writing." You have to learn your verbal style before you can become
comfortable with your written style. Once you understand your own style of
communicating, stick with it as it's the most comfortable place to start.
Let it evolve, but stay with it to ensure that the writing feels good and
flows.

--- And, have I read something you've written? ---

I don't even know if they can read much less if they've ever read something
I've written. If the name rings a bell, probably so! The point is that
most people won't know about you unless you write!

Become a prolific writer and write for the sake of writing. The more you
write, the better you become, the more you publish, and the more people will
read your work.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a writer is "fear." Don't be afraid
to send your work out. People will compliment you and criticize you. In
all cases, take the feedback, positive or negative, graciously!

--- I write stuff, too. ---

When I was young, I wrote on the bathroom stalls in Catholic elementary
school. I created some spectacular poetry! When Sister Butch, of the Order
of the Most Vicious Blood, caught me, that was the end of my career, and
nearly my life. Everybody can write, but not everybody can be a writer.

Being a writer is not just putting words on the paper. It involves
research, organization, thought, creative wordplay, and the ability to sit
still long enough to put it all together.

This short article is a reasonable example. It started out in my head as
"Why write?" and evolved based on some thought. Writing is the evolution of
ideas into something between fact and fiction. It's the evolution of
presentation into something coherent to the largest audience. It's a
fantasy that turns into a reality once you figure out what it is that you're
trying to say!

--- And, what made you write? ---

It wasn't some miracle or premonition. Honestly. Someone made me madder than
a hornet. To make a long story short, I designed and developed an idea for a
product that would save a previous employer a lot money. I did all of the
financial work, software engineering, implementation, and testing to prove
the idea.

During my presentation, the senior engineers scoffed at the idea. So I took
my notes, wrote a manuscript, and submitted it to various publishers. A
month later, a publisher picked up the manuscript and we signed a contract
to publish it. It all took off from there! That's it!

There are a million reasons to write, but I found later that you don't need
a reason if you love it. It takes just one situation to get you started
into the addictive world of writing! But, all you really have to do is ...

--- Just write! ---

I don't write on bathroom walls anymore because it's too hard for our
housekeeper to keep up with the work. But, I do carry around a palmtop just
in case I get an idea! For now ... just write everything you can as often
as possible. Once you get the hang of it, writing becomes an addiction.
Write because you can take an idea and tell it to the rest of the world.
Write because your wife has another headache. Write because you can make
money. Write so that the next time someone asks what you do, you can say,
"I'm a writer!"



About Author Edward B. Toupin :


Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published authorliving in Las Vegas with his singer/actress wife. He currently handlestechnical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, andDenver as well as imagineers and markets feature-length screenplays.


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Other Articles by Edward B. Toupin

Touching One s Soul The Ultimate Inspiration for a Writer
by Edward B. ToupinFrom smoke and dirt to pollution and oil, it is amazing how much gunk can collect on a window over time. I sit here in my office looking out the window that appears to look the same as it did when it was new, but wondering why it was always a gray overcast outside. I was just used to the slow collection of crud so I never really noticed how opaque the window was becoming. It took a lot of cleaner, four rags, and a lot of elbow grease to make the window acceptably...

Don t take things so seriously
by Edward B. ToupinLife is sometimes just what it is. Sometimes you can control a situation and other times you cannot. However, we sometimes become so caught up in the direction and desire that we lose concept of the current location and the ultimate destination.Don't allow things to interfere with your life by absorbing them into your soul and mental workings. It is important to be responsible for yourself and your actions, but not about those things that just go on around you.Take the...

Software Configuration Management for the Technical Writer
by Edward B. ToupinMany software companies with which I've worked didn't have any type ofprocess in place for tracking and managing their software. Usually two orthree lead developers controlled the software. Everyone else had to workbehind them to update or integrate their individual components. As theprojects grew, developers became confused, management became frustrated, andwriters quit because it was hard to keep up with so many simultaneouschanges.--- What is Software Configuration...

Hypnotized by the Crowd Lost in the forest of beliefs
by Edward B. ToupinOver the years of growth and maturity, we become hypnotized by our own belief systems. We move through life under the influence of societal and religious rank and file. Parental voices fill our heads such that we believe in a stricter form of beliefs than did our previous generations as, for each generation, the mind becomes less open and accepting and more filled with what is required to belong to the crowds of the past.Our internal beliefs are like the external laws of...

Developing Screenplay Ideas My well runneth in many directions
by Edward B. ToupinRecently, I started a screenwriting and movie-making group here in Las Vegas. Our objective was to begin at, well, the beginning of the process and work all the way through to an edited movie. Sounds easy? Yes! Is it really? Not at all.The one thing I ran into at the very beginning was the problem of demonstrating the development of an idea into something that could be used as screenplay material. The big question is, what's the difference between regular material and...

Getting Out of the Rut Initiating and Managing Change
by Edward B. ToupinHave you ever accomplished something, then wondered where to go next? Or,perhaps you've accomplished something and just continued down that same pathbecause it worked. Many people become stuck in this way because of thesecurity of sameness. You can get stuck from problems as well astriumphs.I have to say that my life has been a most interesting set of twists andturns, but I've always had the opportunity to maintain a little bit ofcontrol. The control I kept, however, was...

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