Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Recommended Reading for Poker Writers

Click here to get started!Over the last couple of weeks, Barry Carter has offered a number of posts on his blog regarding the current state of poker media, including a series of a half-dozen posts presented under the heading of “Advice to New Poker Writers.” The posts contain numerous good tips to those hoping to break into the relatively small world of poker writing.

As I imagine there are a decent number who come around here to read my posts who are writers themselves -- including some with ideas about perhaps getting involved in poker writing, too -- I thought it worthwhile to point you to his posts.

Drawing on his six years of experience with poker writing -- including co-authoring The Mental Game of Poker (2011) with Jared Tendler -- Carter discusses various topics in the series, including “the state of the industry” (not a lot of work, but tons to write about), taking the initiative, finding topics, ideas about where to place one’s writing, and networking. Good advice throughout, and in fact, a lot of it should be of value not just to would-be poker writers but to anyone looking to be a freelancer, regardless of one’s subject area of preference and/or expertise.

The one entry in the series that resonated the most with me was the one in which Carter recommends to those wanting to get into poker writing that they start their own personal blogs.

Carter explains how it is possible to “create an impressive portfolio of work and learn a great deal at the same time” by keeping a blog -- both great points, in my opinion. (Indeed, he’s kind of describing how I got into poker writing via Hard-Boiled Poker.)

Barry CarterNumerous other benefits of keeping a personal blog are mentioned, and I concur with all of the points Carter makes. I’m not going to summarize them, though -- if you’re curious, go read for yourself.

Keeping this blog has proven especially rewarding for me in a number of ways. In truth, when I started writing Hard-Boiled Poker I had no thoughts of using the blog to help me find other work writing about poker, although it ended up playing a role in doing just that. Rather, I primarily began HBP for two reasons: (1) to see if writing about poker might help me become a better player, and (2) to give myself a creative outlet.

While I do believe the first purpose was achieved to some extent given how writing about the game forced me to try to think more clearly about decisions I made when I played, the second purpose also helped me improve -- as a writer. Ask anyone who has regularly kept a blog for more than a few months and most will likely tell you that they’ve learned something -- perhaps quite a lot -- about how to become better at communicating their ideas.

So I keep at it. And like Carter I’d encourage anyone else with ideas of becoming a full-time writer (about poker or anything else) to do the same. That is, keep a personal blog or at least follow some routine which encourages to write, maybe even every day. A journal or diary is fine, although by publishing to a blog you remain mindful of writing for an audience, which helps you continue to try to communicate clearly and effectively.

And keep reading, too. Because reading how others deliver their ideas can help you figure out how to deliver yours, too. Not to mention give you ideas of things to write about... sort of like Carter’s posts gave me the idea for something to write about today.

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