Read a Ton, Write a Ton (Advice from Elmore)

I attended only one writer’s conference in my life. It was close to home in New York City, held in a college during the semester break. Following my printed schedule, I went to a classroom to listen to a famous thriller author talk about his path to publication. It was a packed room, so I had to take a seat in the back. I noticed an old man sitting next to me. He leaned over and whispered, ‘You spend a lot of money on this, kid?’

‘You could say that.’ I’d spent nine hundred dollars I didn’t have at the time.

‘You see all these people?’ he said, pointing at the back of everyone’s heads.


‘None of them will ever be writers. Come back here in ten years and you’ll see the same faces.’

‘Do me a favor. Hold onto your money. You want to be a writer?’

I nodded, hoping the guy would quiet down once the author started talking.

‘Then go home and do two things. Read a ton. Then write a ton. That’s all there is to it.’

I quietly thanked him for the advice, enjoyed the talk by the thriller author, and attended as many sessions that morning as I could. Imagine my surprise when I saw that old man during the lunch event stride up to the podium when he was introduced as the key speaker for the day.

That man was Elmore Leonard.

 - as read on Bob Bly's blog