Free-lance Writer John Hillman Tells his "Wrong Way to the Right Way"

By: Grace Armstrong

John Hillman came to Baylor’s Castlaw Communications Building at 12:30 p.m. on March 1 in order to speak to students in the Department of Journalism, PR & New Media on becoming a writer. 

Hillman, a free-lance writer, explained the course of events in his life that lead him to become a writer after being an accountant and a professor.

“I graduated from Baylor University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned an MBA from Baylor in 1987,” he said.  

Hillman spoke about his time after college as an accountant for CPA firms in San Angelo and Waco and his teaching experience at Mary Hardin-Baylor and Texas State University.  He also was a part-time lecturer at Baylor University.

In his talk, “My Wrong Way to the Right Way,” Hillman spoke about how he found his calling.  After his time as a professor, he began to write for various newspapers and magazines.  He brought with him to the talk a box of magazines, newspapers and books he wrote as well as a PowerPoint presentation showing many pictures of his articles.

He also brought his wife, co-author of his book Devotions from the World of Sports. 

His wife, Kathy Hillman is the associate professor and director of special collections for the Baylor libraries.  Kathy wrote the application portion of the devotions and edited much of John’s work in the book.

“One woman said to me, ‘It was really nice of your husband to let you put your name on his book.’  This made me extremely unhappy,” she said.  “I put a lot, if not the same amount of work into writing the book.  It is interesting to me that people assume a woman can’t know anything about sports.”
John and Kathy operated as a team.  She fully participated in the
writing, editing, and publishing process for each devotional book they
wrote. 

The professor of the journalism course, Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, is also a writer herself. She opened up the room for any questions after Hillman finished speaking.

“Do you all have any questions for the speaker?” she said. 

Several students asked questions.  John Hillman closed his talk by giving the future journalists and free-lance writers in the room advice about writing and reporting.

“Learn the rules of the game,” he said,  “and learn to get the score right—that’s a big one.  Get quotes; losing coaches never have good quotes.  High school athletes never know what to say or they give something bland.  Figure out a new slant, think outside the box in order to distinguish yourself.  Then write and get plenty of practice."