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That is, write stuff people might actually want to read, as opposed to that highfalutin lit’rary stuff and po’try that nobody can understand, not even you. Okay, I’m sort of kidding about that, but you can make a living writing. Unfortunately, the days when Alexander Pope could live very comfortably off the proceeds of his best-selling translations of the Iliad and Odyssey are long gone. Instead, you might have to try writing without inspiration.

Does this mean you’ll never be inspired? No. Inspiration will still come, but the problem with inspiration is … none of us can predict when it will hit. So cherish inspiration, but instead of waiting for it to produce writing, strive to produce without being inspired.

I’m not negating inspiration; I’m simply trying to guide you around it. You’ll still need inspiration to complete good writing. And it can come from a variety of places.

This is good advice for anyone who has to write, whether you hope to earn a living at it or simply produce a paper for a grade.

You can also write popular fiction. English majors galore have taken this road-more-traveled and proven that popular doesn’t have to mean trashy or poorly-written. English majors seem to enjoy reading mystery novels, and some have become very well-known as mystery novelists, including: Dorothy L. Sayers, Thomas Perry. Robert B. Parker. Amanda Cross (Carolyn G. Heilbrun), and James Lee Burke. Charles Ardai writes neo-noir “hardboiled” mysteries under the pen-name Richard Aleas, drawing on his background as a literature major. Then he and a partner launched a publishing enterprise devoted to “pulp fiction,” Hard Case Crime. Oh, and before that, Ardai was the founder and CEO of Juno.

However, if you really want to make money in the pop-fiction world, romance is the game.

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