How to Become a Writer

For years I’ve been saying that, “I want to be a Writer.” I would introduce myself to others or explain in bios that I was just an aspiring writer. I was someone who looked forward, way down the line, to becoming an author. But the truth is, I already am a Writer. I may not be a Published Writer or even a Good Writer, but I am a Decent one. I put words on a page and know how to craft the bare bones of a short story or essay out of them. I know how to get ideas from my brain into print. I am a Writer for all intents and purposes.

Writing for this blog has allowed me to explore different ideas and topics. It’s gotten me back into the habit of writing down all my opinions and ideas, instead of just hoarding them for myself. I’m sharing things with others more than I ever thought that I might have and I’m joining conversations instead of watching from the sidelines. And I’m using words as a tool to do all of the things that I’ve always said I wanted to do.

I am a Writer and you could be, too.



How to Become a Writer

Step 1: Start Writing

Put words down on the page. Put all the words down on the page. Good words and bad words and sentences that make you want to cringe…you need all of them. Most people think that to be a writer, you need to start with a great idea. I disagree. Words have this way of forming sentences and ideas for you, even when you don’t know what you’re building towards, yet. So while a “great idea” may be super helpful, it isn’t required. Take the words you already have, no matter how poorly constructed or out of order they may be, and put them down on paper (or computer screen). Get everything out that you can. When you’re done, look down at the page and congratulate yourself. You are now a Writer.



How to Become a “Decent” Writer

Step 1: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Writer”

Step 2: Edit

Remember all those words you just wrote down? Now it’s time to re-read them, fix them, rearrange them, replace them, move them, cut them and generally do whatever you have to do to them to make them sound like real sentences. Check for spelling, punctuation, and general weirdness of phrasing. You’ve probably made a hundred tiny mistakes; this is the time to fix them. During the editing process you will begin to notice whether or not your words have inched toward a theme or story or idea of some kind. Examine it, think about it, and decide whether or not to follow it. Decent Writers know that the first draft isn’t always right; they know how to clean up the mess and find some sense in it. Once you’ve edited your work, congratulate yourself again. You are now a Decent Writer.



How to Become a “Good” Writer

Step 1: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Writer”

Step 2: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Decent Writer”

Step 3: Edit…Again

Good Writers edit multiple times. They edit their stories and articles every step of the way and when they think they’re done, they go back and edit again. And again. Editing helps you refine the work you’ve written. Sometimes it means giving up your favorite lines or changing a character or even ripping away whole chunks of your work, work that may have taken you days/weeks/months to get right. But all of that editing must be done for the sake of improving the work as a whole, lightening the load and trimming the fat to make it stand on its own. Good Writers know that not even the most beloved words are golden; everything is subject to revision. To transition from a Decent Writer to a Good Writer you will have to go through this process, too.



How to Become a “Published” Writer

Step 1: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Writer”

Step 2: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Decent Writer”

Step 3: Follow the guide above on “How to Become a Good Writer”

Step 4: Be brave.

It is the ultimate goal of most Writers to become Published Writers, to have other people read and admire the words that they’ve carefully arranged into a unique example of the written word. If you want to be published, than you have to be brave enough to share your work with someone else. Whether it’s a high school literature magazine or an online blog, it’s up to you to decide when it is the right time for other people to read what you’ve written, when it’s the right time to leave editing behind in favor of publication. I wish I could say that it gets easier with time and that the butterflies die down with experience, but even proper authors and daily bloggers still get nervous. It can be terrifying to put yourself out there, but it’s also exciting and thrilling to know that other people have read what you’ve written. No matter what their opinions are, good or bad, they’ve read your work and had it make an impression on them. That’s such a powerful thing to experience! To become a Published Writer, you have to be brave enough to take that first step. You have to reach out of your little Writer’s bubble and say, “Now is the right time.” It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to get to where you want to go.



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