This week's installment from the Be a Writer archives.

Kelvin De’Marcus Allen is the editor of The Urban Journal, and a columnist, author and public relations specialist. His columns have appeared in the New Haven Register, The Raleigh News & Observer and The Network Journal (Brooklyn, New York). He’s the author of Looking Back to Move Forward: Reconciling the Past – Liberating the Future. Allen is also a professionally trained actor and has appeared on stage and in film.

Be a Writer Like Kelvin Allen

1. What kind of writer are you?

I’m a columnist. Columnists tend to have a lot of creative freedom and can write about a lot of different topics. A column varies in length but more often than not, a column is usually 600 – 1200 words long. I write about my past a lot and I try to tie in some current event or circumstance that a lot of people can relate to. I think most of us are more alike than we are different, and sometimes we need to be reminded of that. If I can get that through in my writing, then, I think I’ve served others well, and that is what is most important to me.

2. Why do you write?

To me, writing is like being a musician. Words can be rhythmic and I enjoy arranging and rearranging words and sentences to catch the reader’s attention. And, just like a musician who practices a lot, the more I write the better I get.

3. What made you want to be writer?

I really can’t point to one particular incident that inspired me to become a writer. All I know is that I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I also enjoy learning new words and their meanings. Most of my early writings were never written with the intention of ever sharing them with anyone.

At a very early age I would write down my thoughts about all kinds of things, and that’s what really got me going. My older brother Ronald was a prolific writer and I enjoyed reading his poetry. I suppose deep down inside I felt that if I could ever write half as well as he could then perhaps someone would care to read my writing one day and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed reading his poetry.

4. What advice would you give to a fellow writer who was just starting out?

Read! I’ve noticed that many young writers don’t place that much value on reading as it relates to their writing. In my opinion it’s probably the single most important thing they can do to improve their writing besides making sure that they write something as often as time permits. Another bit of advice that I think is important, particularly if your writing genre is going to be non-fiction, and that is to be honest. Honesty separates the great writers from the mediocre writers. Words have a way of responding to honesty, and besides I’ve never met an honest writer who suffered from “writer’s block”.