The first article I ever wrote professionally was a profile of a dancer for the now defunct Indianapolis Magazine. That publication became my training ground -- it's where I learned to turn hazy notions into viable ideas, then into articles worth reading. Over a period of five or six years of writing for that magazine, I won several awards, but more importantly I learned how to be a journalist. I went on to write for The New York Times, Southwest Magazine, U.S. Air Magazine, Nation's Business, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications. I also spent more than 12 years as a staff writer for The Indianapolis Star, first as a general features writer, then as the visual arts and museums beat writer. For a guy without any formal training in the profession, I had a great run that lasted more than 20 years.

These days I rarely do straight journalism anymore (although I'm not averse to a good assignment). But I continue to use the skills I learned and honed during my magazine and newspaper days -- interviewing, researching, collaborating, and writing on deadline. There's no better training ground no matter what you want to do as a writer.