The first step to becoming a writer is simply to start writing. Throw words on a page and you are immediately a writer. However, to become a published writer, it takes a lot more than just writing. Above all, a writer must have a system for writing. Despite what a lot of blogs, Twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards might say, writing is only the beginning of becoming a published writer. Here are some things you need to do to become a successfully published writer:
There needs to be a plan
Whether it be a word count goal, a timed goal, writing at the same time every day etc. You have to have a plan for how you are going to write. Forming habits is extremely difficult, but having some kind of daily goal is a great way to start. Once you know what goal you want to achieve, you have to hold yourself accountable. If you say you’re going to write 1,000 words every day, then, without fail, you need to write 1,000 words. If your goal is to write every morning before work at 8:00 am, then set your alarm and get up before then to write.
Learn your writing system
Are you an outline-r? Do you prefer handwriting? Do you need music when you write? Whatever your system is, you need to figure it out so you can start your habit off on the right foot. I used to think I was better with handwriting, but I have found that it just isn’t convenient for my current lifestyle. I am always out of the house, I end up forgetting my notebook, etc. I was repeatedly failing at forming my habits because I was trying to emulate what I thought a good writer did. That was only hindering my development. Let go of any notions you may have of the “perfect writer.” There is no perfect writer.
One of the quickest ways to learn how to write properly is to read. Read articles on writing, read books in your favorite genre, read books in the genres you want to write in, and read books about writing. If you want to write better, read more.
Take notes on everything you read
Sure, plenty of writers can learn to write through osmosis while reading, but that isn’t everyone. Regardless if you learn that way or not, I highly encourage you to take notes. While you are reading, get out your laptop or notebook and any time a thought comes to you, write it down. If you read a line that just sticks with you, write it down. Above all, just take as many notes as you can. If you do learn through osmosis, the notes will just help reinforce those lessons. On the other hand, if you don’t learn through osmosis, you will have notes to help you keep on track.
Sometimes the only way to learn is to study
Ultimately, reading might not be enough to make your writing better. However, all hope isn’t lost. You might just need to go back to the basics and learn the same way you did in school: by studying. Sign up for a writing course, follow credible writing blogs, and read as many writing books as you can. Take notes on everything, then study those notes. Get grammar and writing notebooks and do the practice work. Whatever it takes to better you’re writing, you need to do it.
Hold yourself accountable
Make a list and hang it wherever you write. Write out what need to do to reach your goal, step-by-step. For example:
- 30 minutes – work on blog post
- 1 hour – read one chapter of writing novel
- 1 hour – read one chapter of fiction novel
- 2 hours – write at least 1,000 words
Put your list wherever you will see it. Stay in your chair until you’ve completed the entire list. Have your environment ready before you sit down so there is no excuse not to complete everything in one sitting. Go ahead and get your music on, have your cup of coffee ready, have a snack nearby, etc.
Writing is a lot more work than just writing, but when you complete your novel and put it out in the world, it will all be worth it. Don’t give up on your dreams. You can do it.
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