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Writing...Entry 2 - Day 2
click to enlargeLearning The Craft Of Writing

John Phillips is a freelance writer from Birmingham, Alabama, who writes for several outdoor magazines, including "Alabama Whitetail and Bass," "Southern Sporting Journal," "Louisiana Sportsman," and "Saltwater Sportsman."

QUESTION: How long did it take you to learn the craft of writing?

ANSWER: I'm still learning it. I'm learning it every day. I started selling magazine articles in my second year. But I really didn't start selling successfully and regularly until my third year in the writing business.

QUESTION: Why did you keep on writing?

ANSWER: I thought there was nothing in the world that would be better than getting paid to go hunting and fishing and then telling stories about and taking pictures of people hunting and fishing. I'd be participating in a continuing- education program through the medium of writing and photography. I'd be able to interview some of the greatest hunters and fishermen in the world and learn all I could from them. Writing about the outdoors offered me an opportunity to go to college in the areas of hunting and fishing.

QUESTION: Do you have any formulas for new writers to follow?

ANSWER: Yes, and If you want to become a writer, you first of all must write from 500 to 1000 words daily. You can write in a journal, make up stories or write anything you want to but the best way to learn to write is to write. The more you write, the better you will become at putting words together and writing more clearly and more concisely.

QUESTION: How did you start making money as a writer?

ANSWER: The first thing I did was write for a weekly newspaper, and I believe that's a really good place for any young writer to begin. Most weekly newspapers start paying very little or nothing, and I think I started writing for about $10 per column. But having a weekly commitment made me write a good story every week and also taught me how write within a word restriction of about 800 words. I had to learn to say what I wanted quickly and precisely, and I had to come up with new material every week. I'd advise anybody to try to come up with a column in a weekly newspaper even if you don't get paid to start with or even if it's only $5 a week. At least you're getting published, having to write every week, looking for new material and learning to research.

Check back each day this week for more from John Phillips...