Want To Be A Writer? Drop Out of College
  • Truman capote

    In an interview Truman Capote once gave, he said the following about becoming a writer:

    “The last thing in the world I would do was waste my time going to college, because I knew what I wanted to do. The only reason to go to college is if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something in a highly specialized field…. If you want to be a writer, and you are a writer already, and if you can spell, there’s no reason to go to college.”

    Betsy Lerner, an agent and erstwhile executive editor at Doubleday, says something similar:

    “Any statistics would show that most of the people attending any writing conference or writing program will never become published writers. Even if your portfolio gets you into a writing program, one there you have only entered another Darwinian system that will naturally weed out the weak from the strong. Not the better writers per se, but the ones who won’t quit…. After attending one such conference, a group of editors and agents gathered for dinner, and naturally we started to gossip about the attendees, those who showed promise and those who seemed hopeless. I felt implicated in the judgements we so easily tossed off; after all, I had been one of those seekers who had attended writers’ conferences before throwing in the towel and going into publishing. I took workshops, even got my MFA, though part of me felt that writing programs were a joke, just a place to bide your time and stave off entering the real world” (Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees).

    The real world where real work takes place. It’s as I’ve always said:

    There’s no such thing as writing talent — and the strength of perseverance is the best predictor of success.





About The Author

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I’ve worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, and more. I’ve written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done to earn my living, there’s always been literature and learning as the constant in my life.

4 Responses and Counting...

  • L 06.20.2013

    True opinion, but not popular. Art is art. You can learn technical skills in school. “Can” being the operative word. But the meat of the operation isn’t in the bones. An individual needs substance, not a diploma – to write something worthwhile. Beyond substance, never hurts to have grit…

  • I really couldn’t agree more, L. It’s nice to see you.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • […] “The last thing in the world I would do was waste my time going to college, because I knew what I wanted to do. The only reason to go to college is if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something in a highly specialized field…. If you want to be a writer, and you are a writer already, and if you can spell, there’s no reason to go to college” (“Want to be a Writer? Drop out of College”). […]

  • […] “The last thing in the world I would do was waste my time going to college, because I knew what I wanted to do. The only reason to go to college is if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or something in a highly specialized field…. If you want to be a writer, and you are a writer already, and if you can spell, there’s no reason to go to college” (Want to be a Writer? Drop out of College). […]

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