How to Become a Writer [In 13 Steps]

By Steph Fraser | Posted on April 17th, 2019

If you’re wondering how to become a writer or how to write a novel, rest assured you are not alone. Lots of people feel like they have a story to tell, but they’re not sure how to tell it. Anyone can sit down and start writing some words on a piece of paper.

However, the physical act of writing is not what makes one a writer. 

There are several elements involved in writing something good and thereseveral elements that you should consider if you want to fully understand how to become a better writer.

You need a lot of skills. Some are natural but many need to be learned and perfected over time. There are things you can do, actionable steps you can take to learn the craft of writing:

  1. Read more
  2. Take classes
  3. Start writing
  4. Use writing software
  5. Create a writing space
  6. Seek feedback
  7. Connect with other writers
  8. Start a blog
  9. Start a journal
  10. Practice
  11. Be creative
  12. Don’t fear bad writing
  13. Know why you want to write

Knowing how to become a writer is a great place to start. Once you have a plan, putting it into action is all up to you.

1. How to Become a Writer by Reading More

The first step to becoming a better writer is to become a better reader. Reading has tons of benefits. Not only will it help you get to know how to become a better writer but it has other benefits too.

Research shows that people who read 30 minutes a week reported that they were 20% more satisfied with their lives. Another study revealed that reading reduces stress by a whopping 68%.

Isn’t it amazing?

Whatever your favorite thing is to read – novels, true crime, nonfiction, etc. – get lots of it, and read like crazy. Reading professional written works will help you develop an eye for how things should look and sound.

The more you read, the more styles you will be exposed to as well. Even though you are just reading casually for personal enjoyment, you will still ingest all the elements of the text.

why reading fiction is important

You will get used to the way things are done, and you will implement the little tricks and methods into your own writing. 

Reading is also a great way to get ideas and inspiration. Of course, you don’t want to copy someone directly. But, especially when it comes to fiction, there can be a small thing within one story that will spark a huge idea in you.

Perhaps the setting inspires a bit of magic in your own mind. Or, the witty and crass personality of a side character starts creating a hilarious main character for your next comedy.

2. Take Classes That Teach you How to Become a Writer

Even if you are a total natural when it comes to writing, it will never hurt you to take a class or two. You don’t have to drop everything and enroll in a full time, four-year college writing program to learn from accomplished writers. 

You may be able to find a single, weekly class at a local school or library. This is a small investment of time that can leave you walking away with a brand new set of valuable writing skills. 

If there is nothing available locally, there are hundreds of online courses to pick from. One of the best places to find awesome online writing courses is Udemy.

udemy writing course screenshot

These online courses don’t usually cost too much and can end up teaching you a lot. Writing courses are usually taught by a professor who helps you learn and improve certain skills.

Perhaps you want to work on your ability to develop a plot or you want to learn better journalism techniques. There are usually specific classes you can take depending on what you want to do and learn. 

Other times, classes are taught by successful published authors, and they work with you on a specific project or manuscript. They can offer advice, insight, tips, and solid critique. These authors will also usually be happy to offer advice on breaking into the world of publishing.

3. How to Become a Writer by Writing

Even with endless hours of reading and a few classes under your belt, the only way you can really hone your writing craft is to write. That’s the best approach on how to become a better writer or how to write a novel.

If you want to become a writer, you need to write every day. No exceptions. No excuses. Find the time to write every day. Even if all you can manage are 100 or 200 words – at least you wrote something. 

Writing every day will help you create great habits. You need to keep good habits and remain disciplined if you are going to make a career out of writing.

Writing often will also help keep your thoughts clear and your ideas flowing. The process will become easier, and you will be able to enjoy your writing time to the full.

4. Use a Software to Help You

If you’re not sure how to write a novel, you need to use a software. Period.

Staring at a blank document and wanting to fill it with brilliant words can be daunting and tedious. Even once you get started writing, you may find you want to go back and change things. Or maybe you came up with a great plot twist and you jump ahead.

These things can be difficult when working on the linear pages of something like Microsoft Word

This is why Squibler was designed – to help make the process easier. Squibler was created with a novelist in mind but the program can be helpful to any writer looking for better organization.

squibler homepage screenshot

It has separate sections for notes, outlining, and research. You can keep everything you need stored away neatly, but always easily accessible. 

When it comes to the actual writing, Squibler helps you stay both productive and organized at the same time. Rather than one big, long document, it breaks your chapters and scenes down into separate documents. This allows you to write in whatever order you please, and you can rearrange later with ease. 

For extremely extensive and detailed note-taking, you can even look into an app like Evernote or Google Keep. These can’t facilitate your actual writing but they can keep you incredibly organized.  

5. How to Become a Writer With a Writing Space

If you’re interested in knowing how to become a better writer, you need a personal space where you can do your writing. This is a must.

For most, this is an office or a desk space that they can personalize. Decorate the space with things that make it feel like you, and gather all your tools such as pens, pencils, notebooks, books on writing, laptop, etc.

Keep everything together and dedicate the space to writing. Whenever you sit down at your writing location, you will instantly feel in the mood and in the zone.

6. Seek out Real Critiques

A major recurring problem among writers is the lack of proper and constructive criticism.

Writers will usually start by sharing their work with those closest to them – family and friends. This is a good start as it will build your confidence and get you used to exposing your work.

However, it is not good to stop here. Family and friends want to make you feel good. They want to lift you up, and this is good, this is what they should be doing. But – it is not good for your writing. 

You won’t know about any problems your writing may have unless someone brings them to your attention. This is why you need to actively seek constructive criticism and welcome it with open arms when it does come. 

Give your work to someone outside of your inner circle. A co-worker maybe, or find a mentor. They will be comfortable being honest with you.

Another option is to find an online community. There are plenty of websites and forums out there that are dedicated to giving feedback. Scribophile is one of the best communities that you should give a try to.

Scribophile homepage screenshot

A good critique community will remain respectful and polite. They will highlight some of the good in your work but they will not hold back in critiquing the problem areas. This is how you learn and improve.

7. Connect With Other Writers

Sometimes, you’ll need a little support outside of just getting critiqued.

The life of a writer is one of wonder and creativity. It can also be one of frustration, writer’s block, and being over-caffeinated. The only people who really understand are other writers.

Make an effort to make a writing friend or two in your area and lean on each other when need be. They can also be a good help if you’re low on ideas or need assistance brainstorming or storyboarding.

8. Start a Blog

Blogs can be a useful thing for any writer to keep around. Your blog can be about anything and it’s just one more avenue for you to practice your writing.

It not only helps you gain experience but it builds your confidence in sharing your work with the public. Blogs can also alleviate any pressure you may feel to be perfect like in other forms of writing.

benefits of blogging

Blogs are a personal asset and the writing doesn’t need to be fancy. It should be grammatically correct and free from spelling errors but it doesn’t have to be super polished. 

You can start by creating a more personal blog and write about miscellaneous topics: 

  1. Your life
  2. Your family
  3. Opinions on certain issues
  4. Any trips or adventures you may go on
  5. Books you’ve read
  6. Movies you’ve seen recently
  7. Thoughts on current events

You can also use your blog strategically as a writer. There are things you can do to make a blog work for you and improve both your craft and your presence: 

  1. Post rough versions of your work for critique
  2. Post edited and polished excerpts for feedback
  3. Share links to your work that is published elsewhere, and create a portfolio

Here is a detailed guide on how to start your own blog and how to become a better writer.

9. Start a Journal

Many successful people keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborative.

Sometimes, it’s just five minutes a day. Even if it’s short, journaling can help you organize and articulate your thoughts. It will help you prioritize tasks and activities that you need to complete and it’s another way to write more. 

It may be small and short but it is still writing. All forms of writing can be counted as experience and even this can help you improve.

In addition to helping your writing, keeping a journal can also aid you in creating and maintaining good writing habits.

Read this guide on how to start your own journal and write more to become a better writer.

10. Practice Your Style

There are many different types of writers and each one writes in a different style. Most of the general content online should be written in a more casual and conversational tone.

Contractions are your friend and you want to be relatable. If this is you, keep this in mind always. Practice being more conversational. 

There is some writing though that requires extreme professionalism. Technical writing, medical writing, and a lot of business writing will have a more serious tone.

This is not the place to make jokes or tell personal anecdotes. If this is what you’ve chosen to write, always be practicing this more professional tone.

11. Be Creative and Don’t Stress

If you’re just starting out as a writer, don’t stress out!

Let your creativity flow and just write!

4 tips to reduce stress and burn out

Even the best and most successful writers don’t write perfect, polished first drafts. Your first attempt at anything – a novel, short story, or article – isn’t going to be amazing, so don’t sweat it.

You’ve got something there, and you can work with it later. Writing can always be improved upon but only if the words are there in the first place. 

Try getting through a few thousand words without doing any editing. You’ll probably find that the less you worry about perfection, the more the words will flow. 

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Write Badly

Don’t let the fear of writing badly stop you from writing.

Remember: You don’t have to show anyone anything if you don’t want to!

Don’t worry about wasting your time either. If you worry that poor writing is a waste of time, you’ll probably end up wasting time sitting there writing nothing instead. Bad writing is better than no writing and everything is good experience. 

Bad writing can be improved upon but no writing will always be no writing. You can’t edit a blank page, so go ahead and write some crap. At least you will have written something, and you can turn it into good writing later.

13. Examine Why You Want to Become a Writer

There are lots of great reasons to become a writer. In fact, there aren’t too many bad reasons to want to become a writer.

Whether you want to be a freelance content writer or you want to publish a series of novels, knowing why you want to write will help you get better. 

You will be more motivated to improve your skills and gain more experience if you know why, specifically, you are doing what you’re doing. 

Having a particular goal in mind will also help you determine which skills need improving. If you want to focus on writing fiction, you can probably pass on the journalism courses. 

Don’t Waste Time

Whatever your reasons are, don’t wait before getting started. Becoming a writer is an ongoing process. There will always be something to learn, so don’t waste any more time – start writing.

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