People often ask me, “How do I become a professional writer?” Well, okay, maybe not often. But it has happened a couple of times in real life and a lot more than that in my imagination. And besides, other writers get asked that question all the time, and I’m the only one writing this blog post, so you have to listen to me.
I’ve only been a professional writer for a couple of years now but I can tell you this: the secret is coffee. I know this sounds like a joke, and since I write comedy for a living, you wouldn’t be out of your mind to think that it is one. But I’m deadly serious. Let me explain.
I never really drank coffee until December of 2007. Sure, I would occasionally have an iced vanilla something in the afternoon if other people were making a Starbucks run, but more often than not it was a soda or an iced tea with lunch. But over that Christmas my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I traveled to Mexico for a few days. At the place we were staying, they didn’t ask you if you wanted coffee for breakfast, they just poured you some. And, being a good guest, I drank it.
Suddenly, mornings were a lot more fun. A light went on inside my head. So this was what everyone was raving about! Upon arriving back in the States I started hitting up Starbucks for coffee in the morning. When my girlfriend and I moved in together the following summer, we started making coffee at home.
Later in 2008 I became a member of the WGA, and last year I got hired to write monologue jokes for The Late Show. Good luck? Talent? Nonsense – coffee! You see, in order to be a writer, I firmly believe you need to wake up every morning and write. Sounds simple, but in the pre-caffeinated days, I never did. I would sluggishly make my way through the day, barely awake enough to accomplish what I needed to accomplish. Once I started drinking coffee every morning, I actually found myself waking up earlier than I was required to in order to get in extra writing. What a revelation!
If Starbucks or the local deli does it for you, great. I recommend making coffee at home. Invest in some coffee-making equipment – or better yet, get married and register for it. The more unnecessary junk you have – a stove-top espresso maker, a bean grinder, a milk frother – the more fun it is. If like me, you live in a one-bedroom apartment, you will literally wake up and smell the coffee in your kitchen. Instead of hitting the snooze button, you’ll want to get out of bed as soon as possible so you can drink coffee and get to work. How wonderful to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning – you know, besides your wife or your job or whatever.
By now, you probably think you have figured it out. Coffee is a metaphor, right? Find the thing that motivates you to write and stick to it. Wrong! It’s not a metaphor, okay? If you want to be a professional writer, start drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Trust me.
Why are you still reading this? Go make some coffee.
Matt Goldich is a stand-up comedian and a staff writer for the Late Show with David Letterman. He performs regularly in clubs and alternative venues around New York City, and at colleges around the country. In 2006, he appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. While attending Brown University, Matt was selected as one of the five funniest college students in America by HBO.com and performed at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado. He has also written for VH1′s Best Week Ever, as well as the game shows Stump the Schwab, The World Series of Pop Culture, and Cash Cab (for which he won a Daytime Emmy award). Matt contributed to the Random House book Bar Mitzvah Disco as well as the “Style Slip-Ups“ section of Life & Style magazine.