Living the Writer's Life: Chuck Warren
Why This Writer Enjoys a Different Sunset View Every Night
Chuck Warren really took “steering his own boat” to the next level when he entered the writing world. Discover how his quest to meld his two passions created a career of authority and autonomy, plus the freedom, ability, and income to live out lifelong travel goals.
You wanted to be a writer since you were a teenager, but like a lot of us, myself included, you ended up going in several other directions. Why?
Well, I had the idea to become a writer when I was about 13 years old. I was serious about it, but then I went off to the Navy and learned to fix airplanes. And when I got home from the Navy, I learned to fix boats, and I developed such a passion for boats and all things boating that that became my life for a long time. Funny thing, that was what led me back to writing; I had the opportunity to pitch an article to a boating magazine. Enough people had told me, “Hey, you should be doing something with your writing gift.” And I finally said, “Why not? I’ll give it a shot.”
So boating brought you back to writing. How did you find your way from there into copywriting?
Originally I was going to be a travel writer because I figured that went hand in hand with boating. That’s how I became part of AWAI. Then I got approached by a friend who was working with a marketing company and I ended up writing for that marketing company for five years. I did web content, blog posts, etc., for everything from restaurants to animal trainers. From there, I decided I really wanted to focus more on my passion. So I came back to the boating industry.
What specific boating writing have you done?
I wrote a whole bunch of brand content for an Italian yacht broker in the spring, and I write blog posts and web content for one of the biggest boating industry companies in the world now. I just got approached by another company to start doing some copywriting for them as well. Everybody says to pick a niche, and I tell you, I avoided that in the beginning. Then I realized how important it is, because passion and experience in a topic are really critical to being successful.
You had a tiny hiccup when you were first exploring writing and received some really halting advice. Can you share that story?
It was before I ever got anything published, and I signed up for this writing conference. Now, right before I left, I got this burst of courage and sent off two articles that I had written. One was an essay to Michigan BLUE magazine, one was a pitch to Lakeland Boating, and they were both terrible. Then I went off to this conference and one of the panelists said, “Anybody who wants any advice, I’ll help you.” I sent him an email and said, “Anything you can tell me at all would be a huge help.” And he sent me back this eight-word reply that said, “Don’t bother. It’s too hard. Do something else.”
I was heartbroken. This guy just yanked the rug out from under me. I decided I was done. But no joke, three days later, I get an email back from Michigan BLUE magazine and it said, “We love your essay. If you cut it down to 900 words, we’re going to publish it.”
And I’m like, “Come again?” Then two days after that, I get this email from Lakeland Boating and it says, “Oh my gosh, we’ve been looking for a writer in Michigan. We’re so glad you found us. Would you please go to Tiara Yachts in August and be our representative at the press event and write the feature for the December issue of the magazine?” And I’m like, “What? I can’t say no.”
It’s proof that one naysayer can really shut you down. Thank goodness you’d already sent those emails!
I have over 200 articles in print, and I don’t even know how many thousand on the web. I would’ve done none of that if I had listened to him.
What does a typical day look like for you now, and where are you right now?
My typical day is pretty unusual. Aside from writing, I’m a captain and I teach people to drive. I also have the freedom to deliver boats. So if you live in Chicago and you buy a boat in Detroit, I go get it and I bring it to you. Right now I’m sitting in the Mississippi — the town is Alton, Illinois, I’m at the very tip of Illinois right where the Illinois River meets the Mississippi River, and tomorrow I should be in the Ohio River.
Chuck's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.
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