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The Writer's Life > Inspiration & Creativity > You Want to Be a Writer? How to Get Started

You Want to Be a Writer? How to Get Started

The first step is to say “I want to be a writer” out loud. The second step is to move forward with these tips for starting a writing career.

If You Want to WriteDon’t limit yourself to reading blogs and websites about writing. Read books such as If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland. Dig into as many books about writing as you can, so you learn what it really means to be a writer. Saying “I want to be a writer” is not enough. You have to work at it!

“It’s the child writer who has figured out, early on, that writing is about saving your soul,” writes Betsy Lerner in The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers.

Do you want to be a writer to save your soul? Do you want to be a writer to get rich quick? (Don’t kid yourself – writers don’t get rich quick!). Do you want to be a writer to share what you’ve learned — and possibly enlighten your readers? Or maybe you want to be a writer just because you like to titillate, entertain, amuse.

It’s all good, fellow scribes. You can write for whatever reason you want — as long as they’re your reasons.

“I Want to Be a Writer!!!”

Relax. You have what it takes to be a writer (probably)

I Want to Be a Writer

“I Want to Be a Writer” image by Laurie

“I would say there’s no such thing as a natural talent, but after working with many authors over the years, I can offer a few observations,” says Lerner. “Having natural ability doesn’t make writing any easier (and sometimes makes it more difficult), having all the feeling in the world will not ensure the effective communication of feeling on the page, and finally, the degree of one’s perseverance is the best predictor of success.”

If you’re worried you can’t write or you won’t get your book or article published, I want you to take a deep breath. Then, buckle up for the long haul — because that’s what a “real” writing career is all about.

Commit yourself to writing your book or establishing your freelance writing career

Have you finally come up with a brilliant plot, character, article idea, or book topic? Commit to that idea and start writing. Are you ready to start pursuing freelance writing jobs — or perhaps monetizing your blog? Create a work schedule. Do not give up on it — and if you get sidetracked because you gave birth to twins or had to give cancer a kick in the as*, then get right back into writing.

Let the success of other writers inspire you

It can be easy to slide into dejection and jealousy if other writers write more, write better, write faster, sell more articles, land more agents, and get bigger book deals. But remember that another writer’s successful career doesn’t lessen your chances for getting your book or article published! There really is room for everybody…and there’s more room for writers who really want to be writers. Trust me. You can start a writing career. You can earn money writing.

I want to be a writer. Say it over and over…until you can say I AM a writer because you believe in yourself.

Ride your horse in the direction it’s going

This is one of my favorite quips! I wanted to be a writer for many decades, and it was only when I finally decided to let my career/horse lead me that I succeeded. Even though I landed a literary agent (for a book I didn’t really want to write) and kept getting freelance magazine assignments (for articles I wasn’t 100% enthralled with), what I really wanted to do was write for myself. I wanted to focus on writing — blogging — for my “Quips and Tips” websites.

When I finally decided to ride my horse in the direction it was going, I started to make more money as a writer and blogger. If I was at the start of my writing career, I tell myself to relax into the type of writing that I most want to do. Ride, baby, ride.

Be true to yourself as a writer — and a human being

i want to be a writer“If you pretend to be someone you’re not, your writing voice will sound forced,” write Mlynowski and Jacobs in See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit. These authors encourage writers to create a world you understand, that you naturally gravitate towards.

“I’ve gotten tons of manuscripts from older women trying to sound like 25 year old hipsters, recent college grads trying to affect the voice of a hardened career girl, and women who’ve never spent a day in New York City trying to work the attitude of a grizzled Manhattanite,” writes Jacobs. “Sure, some people can pull off these hat tricks, but I’m here to tell you that most can’t.” If you want to be a writer, write what you know…or what you can learn a lot about.

Be prepared for rejection and criticism. O stinging nettles!

You can’t say “I want to be a writer” and not expect obstacles, setbacks, and roadblocks! “If you give up at the first rejection, then you’re selling your book – and yourself – short,” write Mlynowski and Jacobs. “Sometimes the best thing to do is take whatever advice was given in your rejection letter and rework that manuscript; in other cases, you might want to start something brand new and come back to the first story later.”

If you want to start and sustain your writing career, fellow scribes, you need to learn how to fail and bounce back from rejection.

Do you struggle to come up with ideas to write about? Read 5 Writing Tips for When Your Mind is Blank.

Have you started your writing career, or do you just keep thinking “I want to be a writer”?


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29 thoughts on “You Want to Be a Writer? How to Get Started”

  1. Dear Shikira,

    Thanks for being here! It sounds like you’d bring a great deal of insight and knowledge to the world of publishing – and to your readers.

    To answer your question: no, I don’t think you need to write children’s books first. Many authors start by writing a variety of books, including non-fiction, erotica, suspense, screenplays, and even blogs. I don’t believe all the great writers of past and present started out as children’s writers.

    So, start writing today! Don’t worry about writing children’s literature…write what’s in your heart.


  2. I came to ask if you first need to begin writing and publishing Children’s books before becoming any kind of established writer on the subjects that a writer is most passionate?. Unlike everyone on here who has always wanted to become a published writer, my interest only emerged after many years of personal struggle through the aftermath of childhood abuse, having gone through special needs schooling as a child to silence the abuse. After surviving the past, I had begun writing about the struggle for independence and choice – no abuse survivors to my knowledge, have yet written or published on the subject regarding life after abuse, overcoming much adversity as a direct consequence of childhood trauma into adulthood. I have also traveled extensively and speak several languages, possess a wealth of knowledge of other cultures, trained in the field of psychology and have amazingly sharp artistic qualities – I often sketch in addition to writing to make my assignments far more tangible, creative with an enviable, if not cautious edge.

    I would bring to the world of publication a real taste of human diversity, and complexity from the perspective of self reference, keen observations of others. My personal assignments are immensely varied, full of dialogue and character if etching fictional or part biographical works, always inventing novel style of rhetoric from a variation of old Norse and self-made tongue. Some of my passions for writing born out of early political demonstration, menial jobs where I have encountered work-place bullying on many occasion I could not challenge the shunned acceptance of its existence and where I sometimes tippered with drink to bypass emotional pain.

    I have no idea then, where to begin as a published writer if onself is to first become a children’s entertainer like all of the great authors past and present. Perhaps writing voluntarily for local causes first and foremost – blogging has its place value, yet publishers who seek originality and serious recognition must also be careful perhaps, not to parade their skills where many other eager writers can easily snitch the deal from under your feet if they so wish. I am cautious not to make my own writing accessible to the rest of the population until I am certain that I want for my assignment to undergo serious publication.

    I would be most grateful of any response to my concerns and about whether it is at all plausible to become a published writer without having to first write children’s books – I am more than capable, yet not my desired goal on the whole.

  3. If you want to be a writer, don’t focus on the “countless obstacles”!

    Instead, keep your mind, heart, and soul aligned with what you want to write, who you want to write for, and where you want your books to be published.

    Read books like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way — keep reading books by authors who struggled and got published. Stay connected with blogs that are inspirational and encouraging, that motivate you to keep writing.

    And don’t spend too much time on the internet. It can be a source of information, entertainment, and motivation — but it can quickly turn into a HUGE waste of time.

    May 2013 be a year of great writing adventures!!!