Here’s What To Do If You Want To Be A Writer


So you want to be a writer? Write. Don’t write about how you want to write. Just write. Write anything. At first it’ll be crap. Don’t worry about that. Just keep writing. Getting published doesn’t make you a writer; writing does.

You won’t find your voice as a writer by pondering it over coffee at Starbucks. You won’t find it for $49.95 at some workshop. You’ll find it by writing. Those authors you admire found their style by writing hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of words no one will ever read.

You don’t need a degree to write. You don’t need a hundred credit hours and a letter of recommendation. You need a story. If your language skills aren’t up to par, by all means take an English class. Education won’t hurt you. But remember, spelling and grammar are not the story. The story is your raw material; spelling and grammar are merely tools. But whatever you do, make sure you know the difference between “your” and “you’re” as well as “there,” “they’re” and “their.” And it probably wouldn’t hurt to look up the definition of “literally.” Apparently that’s a tough one for some people.

If you want to write, then you probably love to read. That’s good. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read the classics, read the trash novels in the paperback rack at the pharmacy, read the newspaper, read magazines. Reading bad writing can be every bit as beneficial as reading good writing. It’s like buying a car: you have to test drive a few to figure out what you like, and the best way to figure out what you like is by determining what you don’t.

Write about what interests you. You’ll be much more likely to complete a project when you appreciate the subject matter. Finish what you start. Start with an idea, flesh it out, edit it, and rewrite it. You may surprise yourself and find that the essay or short story you thought was a dog has actually turned out better than you thought. If you become a journalist or freelancer you’ll spend many hours writing about topics dictated by editors, so now while you can, write what you want. Write what you would like to read.

More than anything, write. Sitting around bloviating about how you want to write won’t make you a writer. Only writing will.