What it Takes to Become a Writer

A reader asks:

What do YOU think it takes to be (or become) a good writer? And statistically speaking, what is the median age of a writer who lands their first writing gig? 

I’m sure every writer would answer this question differently.  What do I think it takes to become a good writer?  Life experience and discipline, in that order.

Many recent graduates are frustrated to find that they are not immediately staffed on a show.  But the truth is, most producers don’t consider 22-year-olds who have spent most of their lives in school to have enough life experience to be on staff.  Of course there are exceptions.  But it’s important to understand the job of a writer on staff.  It’s not just about writing dialogue.  It’s about pitching ideas for 10 (or more) hours per day, five (or more) days per week.  It’s about taking your own experience and turning it into a story.  It’s not about how many independent films you’ve made or specs you’ve written.   It’s about what your life experience adds to the story generating and breaking process.

The most difficult part of writing is writing; forcing yourself to sit down and write.  Many people have the skills and talent, but not the discipline.  You need to generate a large body of material to demonstrate your ability.  One great script isn’t enough.

And I don’t know the median age of staff writers, but I can tell you I don’t know of any staff writer younger than 26.

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