Writing Tips, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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9 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    Many people say they don’t have time but they really want to be a writer. The solution – write. Find a time. It can be as little as five minutes a day to begin with but it needs to be five minutes every day and it should be at the same time and the same place. I once heard Frederik Pohl talking about this. He said it was his unvarying rule that he would write for an hour at least (maybe it was a half hour) every day at the same time, and that included at least a few times when he pulled out his portable typewriter (this was long before laptops, or even Osborne'luggable computers) and sat in airport lounges, typing away…

  2. MARK WHEATLEY says:

    Very well put, John. I'm pointing my assistant to to this post for his daily reading.

  3. Shane Kelly says:

    John, thank you so much for your insight. It does not go unappreciated, and it's writers like you and Denny that are the gold standard to me. Love the tips, keep them coming, if you can, without giving away ALL the secrets of the business.

  4. Russ Rogers says:

    Thanks for this column, John. I've heard this bit of advice about learning how to draw: "You get a stack of paper about six to ten feet high and you draw on both sides of the paper. When you get through the stack you will be better at drawing than when you started and you will be ready for another stack." I guess the same could be said for writing. Just write. Write a lot. Write a lot of different things in many different genres. The only better teacher than experience, is experience along with the insights of a really good teacher!It was great meeting you at FallCon. I hope you get a chance to come back to Minnesota again soon.

  5. Elayne Riggs says:

    Fun to read, John, thanks!

  6. Lydia says:

    Can an artist be a writer too? Should I draw AND write everyday?

    • John Ostrander says:

      Plenty of people have written as well as drawn and if you have the talent for both you should do both. And, yes, if you intend to write, you need to do it everyday. You need to pay as much attention to it as you do to your art. Best of luck!

  7. MIKE GRELL says:

    Jumping in late, but in earnest… Thanks for an inspiring piece, John. This should be required reading for anyone considering a career as a writer. RX FOR ASPIRING WRITERS: Take two tablets and call me when they're full.

  8. Hilary Barta says:

    That whole messy Incarnation bit used to get me. I wanted it to be perfect, and, not capable of perfection, I never did it. Now I settle for something less than perfection, and so I do it…eventually.