Legendary comic book writer Chris Claremont recently appeared on Reddit's /r/comicbooks community for an AMA. He answered questions from X-Men fans and, in doing so, inadvertently provided Bleeding Cool with essentially our entire Thanksgiving weekend's worth of comic book clickbait. To be honest, we're not sure why we love Chris Claremont more: because he created the single greatest comic book run of all time that has brought joy to our life for decades… or because he made it so we could take it easy on Turkey Day and not worry about writing comic book news articles. It's really a tough choice.
During the AMA, Chris Claremont was asked if he had any advice for aspiring writers. He responded: "Get a day job. I have no idea, honestly."
That's good advice. But Claremont went on to provide something of a little more substance. "My initial academic training was in political theory," he said. "I thought, you know, go to work and help save the world back in the day—except that I really wanted to try acting, and the only way I could get into a class was to declare an acting major and graduate 4 years later with a degree in acting. I don't know if you've ever tried to get a job with a degree in acting—along the way, I would always write. It was fun; it was something I did. And then when I was just out of high school, I sold my first short story, and then I sold another, and then Marvel bought a story and another, and another—and then oddly enough, I got the X-Men, and then 5 years later I realized I wasn't acting anymore, I was writing."
"All you have to do is read through any number of biographies of writers who did their work between 1 – 3 while the kids were at school and then catch some zzz's and start over again the next day," Claremont continued. "My advice is – if you're going to be an artist or a writer, it's not a conscious decision, it's something that you do. You can train yourself in the techniques in the craft, but if you see a page and you want to put words on it—or if someone rides by in their car and you ask, 'What are they thinking about? What are they doing? Where are they going?' They may seem like innocuous questions, but you may never know. One answer leads to another to another, the percolation kicks in. You never know."
"But something happens that, to me, is the defining aspect of what you say when you ask 'How do I become a writer?'" Claremont concluded. "The cheap answer is you get a piece of paper and a pen you put words down sequentially. You see what happens."
Conversely, you could become a comic book "journalist" by getting a computer, a Twitter account, and then writing down things comic book professionals say on Twitter and calling it an "article." Or Reddit, as the case may be here.