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Ray Strait’s March 2020 Writing Tips

March 27, 2020
As you may know by now, the Hemet Public Library is closed until April 30, so the Diamond Valley Writers Guild will not meet this month. However, to keep in touch with our members, we will publish a weekly tip on writing. This week we feature Ray ‘Rusty’ Strait who has 30 published works to his credit. He is also 95 years old and going strong. He’s the youngest 95 I’ve ever met.  Here are his tips on writing.
–Jim Hitt

so you.jpg

I just received my monthly royalty check for books I wrote 40 or 50 years ago.  It usually runs $100 or a few more, but this month it was three times what I usually received, which means that people are reading more (maybe because of the COVID-19 Virus) but whatever the reason I began to think about people who are always asking me “Show me how to write.”

I decided that I would write a weekly series about writing.  So here goes with my first episode.
The great columnist Walter Winchell advised me when I was working on my first book, “Writing is relatively simple.  Just write one word after another and make sense.”  Sounds simple but there are rules.  So to you folks out there who want to write – and you range from teens and forever, here are my first rules for a beginner.
1. Pick a genre that you want to pursue.  There are so many ways to write.  Books, columns, magazines, television, movies – the different avenues are endless and there is always a demand for material.
2. What will be your subject?  Memoirs, biography, sports, plays, feature stories in newspapers?  Things that you e4xperience that you feel would make a good story?
3. Once you’ve decided your approach, figure out if it involves life experience, something that happened to someone else or just how interesting the study of a blade of grass would be.  Nature is always a good source for writers because it covers such a wide spectrum.
4. There are three primary rules that I’ve always let me my standard; Research, write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
5. Joining a local writers group is always a good step in the right direction.  Seasoned writers in a group are always ready to lend a hand to the newbie.
Your local library usually has a heads up on writers group in their area.
So, if you really do want to write, this is the way I suggest you start.  You say it is a lot of work.  It is and writing is the loneliest career in the world.  A real writer writes because he or she is compelled to do so.  If money is your primary objective then forget writing because you may write for a long time before you have enough income from it to survive.  You’ve probably heard about great writers who began as paupers in an attic or garage.  True stories.  I wrote my first book on a standard typewriter in my garage late at night.  Having said that, it is probably the most rewarding career in so many other ways, especially because you have created something that no one else can take from you.  Just remember one thing my grandmother always told me: “Keep your day job until you are making money elsewhere.”  Sound advice.
I’m always willing to answer your emails.

1 Comment

  1. Cheryl McGuire says:

    Thank you, Rusty. This was great. The mention of Walter Winchell reminds me of all the wonderful old talent that once was. The solid voices. With your age, you lived in a time when news was real news (except of course, the yellow news), but Walter Cronkite and the likes. I miss those days very much. Your writing advice is encouraging. We hear much the same in classes, but few speak honestly about the loneliness of and the pay for writing. It is lonely. And the pay is peanuts. I spent two years as a journalist and the deadlines nearly killed all desire to write. That was 1985 and I am still recovering. Thank you for your writing tip! Be well. Fondly, Cheryl McGuire


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