Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Authors: Write something every day, and save the good stuff.

At hated Hillhouse High School in New Haven I had a demented English teacher, Bertha K. Frehse. Her last name was pronounced "frazy" and she was known by generations of students as "crazy frazy." 

Among other nuttiness, she purred like a cat, made us talk to and wave at a tree, poked pins in students and worshiped Elvis. 

She often ambushed students entering her classroom with such commands as: "write ten beautiful words," “write 200 words about tobogganing,” “explain why striped cats are superior to spotted dogs” or “list 500 reasons why Elvis should be president.” [There's more about the Crazy Cat Woman in my memoir, Stories I'd Tell My Children (But Maybe Not Until They're Adults).]

Later, when I was a journalism major at Lehigh University, a "J" professor suggested that we write a daily column of about 500 words—about anything, and not necessarily for publication. It could be a reaction to news, some advice, an essay, an interview, a sports report, history, a review, anything.

He said that if we expected to get jobs at newspapers (and that was the likely career choice) we had to be able to write on command—quickly, professionally and about anything.

While most of my journalism has been practiced at magazines, not newspapers, that experience and discipline has been valuable while writing for a wide range of media plus advertising, PR and books. 

In my first days after college I lived in a YMCA in Manhattan while working as a low-paid magazine editor. I was able to get a rent reduction at the "Y" in exchange for writing a convincing fundraising letter. Later I became an advertising copywriter. My specialty was hi-fi, but I also wrote ads for food, cars, floor covering and even women's bathing suits.

Today I seldom write advertising or magazine articles, but I publish multiple blogs, and post a lot on Facebook. Some of the blogs and FB posts later evolve into books.

I recently started to collect some of my daily posts on my personal website, It's a convenient place for me to view my own words, and for others to see what I'm all about. Every author should have at least one website, but it can do more than try to sell books. It can be a a record, a repository, a virtual library.

Try it.

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