The other day someone asked me, on one of my other blogs, how to become a writer. I was genuinely stuck for words, but of course only for a short while! It is a hard question to answer in the comments section of a blog, after all.
The problem was, that as I still don’t have a published novel, I don’t see myself as a writer, at least not as a professional writer, not yet anyway. I thought, “Why is he asking me, of all people?” Then I realised, you are what you do and I do write a lot.
I write maybe three thousand words a day at the moment. Some of this writing is blog posts like this one, some of it is articles for sale, some is science fiction of varying length and some of it is for Google Adsense or similar “monetised” content. If a writer is someone who writes, then I guess I qualify, despite my protestations of being a “wannabe”.
So how could I help the guy become a writer? What *cough* sage advice could I offer?
Well, the single best piece of advice I could offer to become a writer was write often.
Write something every day, even if your head hurts, even if you don’t want to and think your writing sucks. Of course if it does suck then don’t submit it for publication, but at least you can delete/burn/sacrifice it to a dark God or something.
(No manuscripts were hurt in the publication of this post – Science Fiction Manuscripts Protection League)
Writing is sort of like a muscle. If you exercise often you become fitter and if you write often you become a writer. The exercise stops being a chore and becomes automatic. The fact that your subconscious brain takes up the job makes the writing process a lot easier.
Dare I say it, that if you write every day, writing becomes fun?
Becoming a writer just creeps up on you, sort of like it did for me.
I honestly believe this to be true and I can see no reason why it wouldn’t apply to any area of writing whether you are writing poetry, creative writing, or advanced technical writing for a non-fiction manual. Write and you will improve.
There are, of course, books and writing courses that will help you improve your writing, such as Strunk and White’s excellent guide which has been an industry standard reference for decades. Over time I will review some of the many writing instruction books on this site.
As this area is such a big one I suspect that to answer it properly will require a static page. No doubt this won’t be the last time someone asks how to become a writer and it would be nice to say “Have a look at my website.”
While I was happy to help this guy I can only be relieved that he didn’t ask me how to be a published novelist!