Career Coach: Writer
I caught up with writer Jeff Chandler for a bit of career advice.
When did you discover and start to explore your passion for writing?
I remember a short story I wrote when I was little, about a giant killer octopus. The feeling of pulling something into reality that had only once existed in my imagination was so powerful - I was hooked. It wasn’t until I returned from Italy after a year-long tour in a musical in 2009, however, that I decided to start a blog about mindfulness. And so it began.
When did you decide that you wanted to make writing your career?
Having published two books based on the blog, I began to see the potential for a new career. I hung up my tap shoes and began writing short erotic-romance fiction in March of this year. Eight months later, I have now just published book number 10 under a secret pseudonym. It’s very exciting.
Did you take any writing courses or do any study to become a writer, or is it something that you have to learn on the job?
Last year I graduated from The London School of Journalism with my Diploma in Travel Writing. I don’t think a writer ever stops developing their craft, and I’d like to take a couple of short courses next year to see where it takes me. As with most things in life, we tend to learn through experience and actually living life.
Is being a writer a glamorous job?
I used to want to be Carrie Bradshaw! I mean, who wouldn’t? The reality of having to juggle a second job to supplement a writing income is a challenge in itself. But I truly believe that there’ll come a tipping point and I’ll be able to meet the girls for lunch, talk about sex, and then go back to my glamorous apartment to write about it.
What are some of the skills and attributes you need in order to be a writer?
Apart from a relatively good grasp of the nuisances of language, I’ve learnt that one of the most important skills to nurture is dedication. There will always be days where our energy levels are low, but as working writers, we have to simply pound away at the keyboard until something comes out. There’s inspiration all around us, and it’s good to be aware that we may just have met the main character in our next book whilst standing on a crowded tube.
If someone was interested in trying their hand at a career in writing, what advice or guidance would you give them?
Write every single day and figure out who you are. It’s important to understand what kind of artist you want to be and where you fit in. And don’t be afraid to experiment with genres - who knows what you’ll discover?