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Frank Westcott




(c) Frank Westcott, 2021. All rights reserved.



for Sandy... Segment 1



So! ~ So You Want to be a Writer?


New beginnings do not mean you give up the deep, true you inside, who you truly are. You are free to be more of that you.


F.W. 21st Century






Somewhere along the way and for whatever reasons, you decided to become a writer. This decision, if followed through to its natural end, may very well affect everything you do for the rest of your life. It may bring you fame, fortune and freedom. Assuredly, it will bring you much pain, heartache and toil.


During the early stages of your career, you will be criticized by friends, family and neighbours, as well as by people you don't even know. Should you become even moderately successful, along with esteem from peers and peasants, you will feel a certain ostracization due to jealousy and misunderstandings regarding the dedication, perseverance and timeless hours the writer's craft demands.



Throughout SO! ~ SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? , I hope to share with you, as much as can possibly be transmitted via the written word, the knowledge I have gained over the past forty-seven years as author, one-time publisher and one-time teacher.




Success on your part will depend largely upon your ability to discipline yourself, develop a businesslike approach to writing and be extremely objective towards your work.



And believe me, there is no other way. You will need all the self-discipline you can muster. You will need to be a businessperson and you will need to develop objectivity more than likely, foreign to you now.



At this time, it will be to your advantage to get rid of any notion that because you believe yourself to be talented, all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter (ah… my early days) and you will magically write a masterpiece. Thoughts such as these are sheer, utter nonsense. No one has done it, is doing it or will ever do it.



Good writing takes years of hard work, an athlete's discipline and the dedication of an Olympic Champion.


You may hear stories of authors who whipped off a manuscript in record time, sent it to the first publisher listed in the yellow pages and immediately had a best-seller. Bull!



Countless hours went into that manuscript.



Before it was published, there were likely tears, sweat and blood. There may even have been a lifetime writing page after unsuccessful page, pasting rejections to the bathroom walls, and praying, and hoping, and working and pulling oneself together time-and-again to give it one more try.



You may have heard or read that Ernest Hemingway wrote THE SUN ALSO RISES in six weeks. Thoreau's WALDEN reads as spontaneously as if it came right out of his head onto the printed page. It didn't. He labored over WALDEN writing and re-writing.



In fact, seven years elapsed between Henry David Thoreau's leaving Walden Pond and WALDEN's publication.


According to literary historians, Hemingway did write THE SUN ALSO RISES in six weeks, but what of the hundred rejections on work before that? What of the years spent sending dispatches to the Hearst Syndicate and to the Toronto Star? What about the earlier publication of THREE STORIES AND TEN POEMS and IN OUR TIME? What about these years? Years he spent developing his craft before THE SUN ALSO RISES.



Can you imagine Lev Tolstoy or Gustave Flaubert sitting down and having WAR AND PEACE or MADAME BOVARY come out letter perfect the first time?



There was work, and sweat and long toil before completion. They encountered ridicule and suffering. Flaubert had to contend with pornography charges in the courts and Tolstoy spent over six years between 1863 and 1869 working on WAR AND PEACE.



In more modern times (mine), consider James A. Michener or Irving Wallace rattling off one of their heavily researched novels without pause for character development, plot delineation or topic investigation.



After these examples, and there are many-many more, I hope you realize there is no way any budding word-pusher can ever hope to achieve success unless she/he is willing to put out, and put out and put out until hopefully, one day, she/he is a bonafide writer.



So! So you want to be a writer?



Forget the three F’s once & for all! The Three-F’s? FAME-FORTUNE-FREEDOM!



(Next Segment: Forget The Three-F’s Once & For All)






This first version's/segment of  So! ~ So You Want to be a Writer! was first published in the magazine Write Away in May 2021. A link to that in the magazine is here for you. Enjoy. This article comes as a modern-day-revision from my book So You Want to be a Writer, which came out many years ago. The 21st Century! IS HERE!   






So! ~ So You Want to be a Writer?


Your genius is your spirit. You carry your spirit inside. Your spirit is more than you could ever comprehend fully. Yet you know it is there in all its magnitude & splendour. Always...

F.W. 21st Century




It should be clear to you that deciding to become a writer, whether it’s in song, or prose or poetry, deciding & becoming are two different things. First and after deciding, you, the writer-becoming has to be willing to-put-out, put-out, then put-out some more. You’ll probably work harder at this than anything you've ever done in your life. This is necessary. And no easy task. It is time consuming. Energy draining. And can be all-consuming. If you let it. Don’t.


A real-writer once said, "A writer has about as much chance of making it as a salmon egg." Staggering odds whether you be a fish or word-pusher. Truth. Puts all cards, dice, pencils, pens & chips of the computer-kind on your table-desk-or-tablet.


Venturing too far into the world of fantasy where Pulitzers, Dylan-esque-Nobels and National-Medal-Bauble-Things shower you is dangerous. And has nothing to do with becoming a real writer. Discard, shred, press-delete on all notions like these and get down-or-up to your writing busyness.


Like I said, get rid of the THREE F’s once and for all. These are the notions of “F”ame, “F”ortune and “F”reedom. These are sometimes the result of success in any venture, and sometimes the rewards from dancing in a successful freelancing, lancing not-for-free, real-writer career.


BUT-T-T-T-T-T. And it’s a BIG but!


No matter your calling, heart-tap or desires, you have to put out-&-put-&-put-out and do it again. First.


Success beats the odds. YOO-OO-OO have to determine what success means to you. And go for it!


F-ame, F-ortune & F-reedom may be a by-product. But-t-t-t-t-t-t… You have to take the creative chance first!


SO! ~ SO You Want to be a Writer! Divert your attention to the three, all-important “P’s”: “P”-erseverance, “P”-atience and “P”-roductivity.


Follow, heed and live by them. Regardless your stripe, bent or writerly-propensities. Let’s spin your cerebral hemispheres & my remaining-½-brain-cell to a new locus. Look at you, the gal or guy wanting to be, about to be… & becoming… a writer. A real one that is.


Common first questions are: "Where do I begin? How do I start? What should I write about?”


Okay… Don’t bark up the wrong tree or chew on the wrong pencil. Start where you want to. Write what you want to. Put your toe in the water. So to speak. Play. Begin with a toe-wiggle-of-the-literary-kind. Simple. You’re about to learn to swim after all. No structure necessary. Just water. Wiggle that toe. No form required. Not even flippers! Wiggle two toes, if you want. And… remember… there is no right-way to do it, toe wiggling or writing that leads to guaranteed success. If you are a real-writer do it your way. That’s where artistry is. You can pretend & be a caricature of you pretending to be one. A writer. Or…? If the work is yours, what YU WANT IT TO BE then it is REAL 4-U! If you hate formal spelling like me… wryte the way yoo wahnt! SPELLing-wise THAT IS! And do it WRITE, NO-RIGHT! YOUR WAY. Be a real writer. An artist in song, in word, in poetry in… what is YOU! Simple.


So… sit your-you-know-what down, put a pencil-pen-crayon-finger-something to paper-keyboard-template-device-thing or a sky-writing-airplane, if you must, and Forget the Three F’s once & for all! Write anything. 

Anything at all. 


The more the better. If you’re not sure what to write, write about that!


Your best novel-ever might emerge! Experiment. Play with poetry. Write a song. HAVE FUN! ! ! ! Play-Play-Pal-ay. Make Play-Your-Pal! Write a column. Do a book review. Sing that song you wrote. LOVE your imagination. Now that’s Freedom. It could be your hidden gift!


When your fingers cramp up, do five-finger & five-toe pushups. Maybe try 8-finger+2-thumb-pushups & 10-toe push ups to boot! If your fingernails buckle, use your knuckles. And start again. Contagious, for sure!


The paths to literary genius are rugged, rock-filled and not very crowded. So, if this is YOU… no worries… the path… yours is pretty clear. No one else is on it!


If you write fiction, which I do, remember… Every story has its own life & every life has its own story, neither of which may be true.

F.W. 21st Century


In a roundabout, to-circle-back, way, I’m saying, at your writing career’s beginning, you may not know what kind of writing suits you best, is your natural flow or artistry. So, fiddle with whatever happens to strike your fancy & brings you some joy in the moment. Start there!


And heck, if you're a genius, which isn't likely… it is irrelevant right now. FORGET THE THREE F’S ONCE & FOR ALL! And learn to swim!




This 2021 segment, SEGMENT 2, of SO! ~ SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER! was published in Write Away Magazine in their October 2021 Issue. 






So! ~ So You Want to be a Writer?


The Genius connects with and to others from her special place within, her soul-place. And the Genius connects with and to others from his special place within, his soul place.

F.W. 21st Century




In music or lyrics or prose, your career's infancy contains many practice runs. Laps around the track. Across the alphabet. Fewer letters would be great! We’re stuck with the fabled 26! Glad we didn’t get a yardstick long alphabet. 36-letters! Or a metrestick long alphabet. 100-letters. Pencils out of style too! Pencils with a great delete thing. Called an eraser. Back in the day, “Practice safe-writing, use a rubber!” Today, delete button.


Content-style-even-the-shape-of-your-autograph-matters-not. Write-Now! Have fun! Write what you want to write. We'll tackle various forms, methods, complete with hints, do's & don'ts soon enough. Hate don’t-s-s-s. So, more do's than don'ts. Me hopes.

Most important, in the beginning, is to splash around the alphabet-poodle. No puddle. Write as often as you can.


Set aside lyric-prose-music writing time every day. Gets you in a regular writing habit. Whether you have anything to say or not, write anyway.


My best work comes that way. My worst too. As you can tell. See. And read. Visit my web site for more!


Sounds haphazard doesn’t it? Or like a carefree, splashing about approach. It is. On the other hand, or the other-other one, it really doesn’t matter which, isn't it a good idea to splash around in the water a little, or alphabet soup if you prefer, before diving in?

Get accustomed to how words feel, how different combinations sound. Practice writing the same sentence in many ways. Get your feet wet. Get your fingertips letter-sound accustomed. Splash around. Then learn to swim. To mix metaphors. My genius. LOL.


And remember? TO BE OR NOT TO BE?


“To be or not to be is not really a question. It is often just an avoidance of the thing.”

F.W. 21st Century


What has learning to swim got to do with writing? A lot.


Allow me to digress somewhat and circle back to the point later. 

During my childhood while at the local pool, I admired those who swam with beautiful strokes, slicing the water with arms and fingers, blending-becoming-almost an integral part of the water. It seemed. Effortless.


Now for me, initially, I was allowed only in the shallow splash area. Then later, progressing to a deeper but still shallow pool section, where you could stand up if you did a falter-flounder. No deep end yet for me. Had to splash about a bit. Then learn to swim. Get buoyant. AND very wet. Immersed, so to speak. And you should with words. And I’d drip the splashing, outta the water. Head to foot. YOU? Drip words head to foot. My eyes, nose & ears flooded. With water! Eventually, I became aligned with water. YOU? With words. Even standing. Sitting. Most of the time. Feet on the ground. Or in the air. Blowing bubbles. Of the air-water-word-kind.


One day, my arms moved in a slicing-smooth crawl pattern. My head turned to the side & breathed. Bubbles-billowed from my lips back into the water. Expelling air. I could swim! YOU? With words. Blow word-bubbles. Immerse yourself in the glorious word-pool gracing your air & mind. Or languishing on your mental shelf. In time, I felt totally at home in water. YOU? With words. Learn to splash. Float. Blow word-bubbles. Before swimming. Ooops… before becoming a real writer. Swim before you walk. Ooopsie-again! Before you write. Shower at least! After!


Writing is like that. This. You have to get accustomed to the water before you learn to swim. When you are at home in the water, you are ready to swim. Freely. Beautifully. Writing is like that. Before YOU put down a key-word, final one, splash around in the water a bit. And in the early stages of any piece. Splash around with it. Let it find its shape. On the page. Get familiar with the YOU, the WORD and the DOING of this writing thing. Get at home with it. Let words FLOW from your fingertips, pushing pens, pencils, screen things.


Then, when this is natural for YOU, YOU are on your way to becoming a REAL WRITER.


You learned to swim. Splashed around in the water first. Blew a bubble or two. YOU have become a writer.


No more painful put your head under the water in the bathtub routines. You’ve blown your word-bubbles & can put pen to paper, fingertip to computer-or-device freely, without thinking too much. Just doing it! Being a writer.


SO! ~ SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER? Splash around in the water a bit. That word-pool-thing. Get comfy-familiar with how words feel. And with how water feels raining down on you. After days sweating this writing thing, shower needed! While you’re at it, get familiar with water, ooops, words up the nose… the vagaries of being a writer.


(Scroll for next segment: Learning to Swim Lap #2) 



So! ~ So You Want to be a Writer?

(c) Frank Westcott, 2021. All rights reserved.


...for the writer in you Segment 4


One’s home is of them alone. May yours be of you.

F.W. 21st Century





SO! You’ve splashed about in the word pool. Gotten familiar with words & that water up the nose thing. Vowels & consonants too. Consonants stick. Need a good sneeze to pop ‘em out. Land funny too. Bounce. On the page at that!


In writing: music, lyric-making, art & in life, finding your way ‘back’ home is like learning to swim. Lap #2. We talked about that learning-to-swim-thing in the last SO! ~ SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER segment. You know, learning to splash around. Doing the writing-word-pool-thing. Getting ultra-word-wet. With-vowels-consonants-blood-sweat-&-tears.


The eternal-internal question, “What has learning to swim got to do with writing: lyrics, prose, poetry, music composition, art, anything? Or living?” In Segment #3, LEARNING TO SWIM LAP #1 it says, “A lot!” SO does this lap.


We are allowed to wonder, “What has learning to swim got to do with finding your way back home? To YOU. THE REAL WRITER? A LOT! A LOT! A LOT! & MORE-A-LOT!


YOU, as a REAL WRITER, write from an inner place. Your HEART-HOME. Your TRUE HOME. That spiritual place-home you carry inside you. Where you truly live. In this life thing. Always. This is where your feelings- insights manifest.

 Inspirations to boot! This is where you ‘feel’ & ‘know’ things. You can’t explain. But are. Truly. Fully. ‘Really’. As in the

‘reality of the real’. Those things most important. To YOU. AT YOUR CORE. REALLY! Your true you.


Real Writing… Real Living… True Writing... & True Living find themselves there. Operate from there. The fulcrum to your life teeter-totter. And then you emerge, to mix metaphors again.

Joyously. Be it in a song. In a poem. In a novel. A short story. A YOU! YOUR HEART LEADS THE WAY. As it should. ‘This’ is what touches your audience. And in response, they-touch-you in creative-magic-interchange. That miracle of creative sharing.


Your HEART-WORD-LYRIC-SOUND-SYMPHONY tells a story, however subtle & hidden at its depths in your work. The conductor inside is you. YOU! In songs-words-art of any kind be in tune with THAT SOMETHING THAT IS YOU. Live & create from there. As best you can.


Before this can happen, your creative spirit needs to find its home in-&-with you, like we began to learn in segment #3. You must splash around in this life-thing. Your word-waters of soul. YOU. YOUR WORD-POOL. Get wet. Splash in YOUR-WORD-ART-POOL. Shallow end? Deep end? Tatters-&-matters matter not. As long it gets you to YOUR WORD-LIFE-POOL in the end. That is.


Let pool-drains swallow what is not you. KEEP-&-EMBODY WHAT IS YOU. Your soul-pool-deep. Fill your pool with YOU. THE REAL WRITER. And find YOUR WAY HOME. Become a REAL WRITER.


Writing, art & life are sort of messy. Like that. Especially in their embryos. When they’re little more than thoughts. Beginning thoughts. Then you’ve got to jump in-or-out & breathe. Get messy. Finding your way home is like that too. The routes are the same. You have to get wet. Splash about. Swirl in your waters. Word-waters. Tears. Laughter-in-the-rain. Torrents. Heart rending. Flow to your deepest waters. Work from there. In joy. In sadness. In frivolity. Swim. That’s lap #2. Swimming of the WORD-LIFE-ART-KIND. Cavort in the tributaries of your life, its hidden veins, springs & creeks, or mighty rivers too. Write from there. Make art from there. Your depths. Whether it tickles your funny-bubbles or tear-drives your emotions. YOU ARE HOME. In the deep waters of your soul. Where all great work comes from. Your words will sing. For you…


And know, even THE GREAT comedy writers in song or prose know their personal depths intimately. They are HOME. They travel there. Spend time there. To find the nuggets, in the gold-streams of their lives, to make people laugh. It is always so.

Swim there. Do laps there. Find your power there. That’s where it comes from. That knowing. Knowing how deep you truly are. Whether you write about it or not. Sing about it or not. YOUR HEART-HOME gives you that base, that foundation under you. And the stamina to go the distance with your work: art, life, words or music.


You are your story. Your poem. Your novel. Your song. YOUR LIFE. This is where REAL WRITERS begin their stories, regardless the medium. However disguised. Subtle or not. AND IT IS WHERE THEY LIVE THEIR LIVES. Truly. Flowing, throbbing in heart-time. Rhythms from their souls. FIND YOURS. FIND YOUR SOUL-RHYTHMS. You are home.

(Next Someday: “At Home, Now What?”)

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