How Does Career Choice Affect Writers?

I am reading Carl Hiaasen’s Nature Girl.


I never doubt Hiaasen’s authenticity when it comes to creating over-the-top characters. In journalism, over-the-top is sometimes the norm. What led Hiaasen to become an author?

Since falling for his writing style—with which I share certain satirical values in my contemporary stories—I had decided to research the author. I discovered he is a longtime journalist for The Miami Herald. His column is said to express outspoken views. He wrote his first two books with another author, and Hiaasen also reminds me of Hemingway.

Hemingway, also a man of many words, worked as a journalist. Some of his work I appreciate, and some is as good. Again—at one time—I wondered: Must a person work in a writing-related career to become an author?

No doubt it helps.

Author Carl Hiaasen, author of Nature Girl.

Ernest Hemingway

An editor once told me there is a difference between a journalist and a writer. Another editor told me journalism students cannot write with the same creativity as a writer. (Not my belief.) A publisher complimented me on the fact that I had little trouble coming up with great leads for stories, which was a challenge for many young journalists.

After I left full-time journalism, I did—and still do—freelance work. I thought it was beneficial to become a copy writer or something in the publishing industry.

But, I am not journalist or someone who belongs in front of a computer all day.

And, I’m not Hemingway or Hiaasen.

For two years, I dressed in costume as a reporter. I told myself it would support the (creative) writing. It was a good lie until the day I stopped writing.

Something stirred in my gut. I fought it because I had the messed up notion in my mind that if I became a teacher, I would already be viewed as the writer who failed.

It was a good try,” I thought someone would say. “Let’s pack up the pens and try something that brings in a real paycheck.”

How many teachers have gone on to become great writers? I don’t know.

In my life, writing and education walked hand-in-hand. One guided the other.

Older children and teenagers are main characters in my stories and novel.

I am still learning to build writing and editing time into my new schedule, but I find myself happier and, hopefully, a better writer.

Do you believe your profession can work with your writing?

What do you do to make time for writing?

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

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2 thoughts on “How Does Career Choice Affect Writers?

  1. Elliot November 3, 2012 at 12:28 AM Reply

    I’m more of the thinking that what you learn and what you experience can help you become a good writer, although there is a little bit of ability involved. I don’t believe anyone can necessarily be a good writer, some people just aren’t suited to it anymore than I am suited to working as a medical surgeon. The other side is that if you work in writng it may be a helping hand, after all you are spending more time with words. But a good journalist does not always make a good creative writer, or the other way round. A bit of ability (which may just be in generating good ideas and knowing what to do with them), plus what you can learn or / and experience, are I think, the best factors towards becoming a writer.

    The time though, that is a problem for me right now.

    • rtd14 November 5, 2012 at 6:10 PM Reply

      You are right. I think any profession gives you experience for a writer because you have a unique point of view. Part of what I was saying is that it is a misconception that every journalist is a writer. Creativity comes from any profession. Time is a problem. I’ve faced that challenge in the last four months. That has been the biggest challenge since I left journalism three years ago. Thanks, Elliot. ~ Becca

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