So You Want to Be a Writer
Writing, whether it’s screenwriting, prose writing, poetry, or just nonfiction journalism, is a noble craft.
It’s a medium that allows the individual artist’s voice to shine through, regardless of genre.
Writing has the power to show a society (or any group of people) their own imperfections and strengths.
It’s a way to make sense of the world and make something beautiful in the process.
So if you find yourself saying, “I want to become a writer, where do I start?” then we’ve got some good news for you.
Here are a few tips that will help you get your writing off the ground.
Practice Practice Practice
First and foremost, the writing needs to be good. Unfortunately, as with other art forms, there’s no secret formula to make this happen.
Instead, you need to put the work in, and when it comes to writing, that means putting something down every single day, if possible.
You need to make writing a habit, one that you actually look forward to as part of your daily schedule.
It’s also important to care about your writing. If you’re not invested in the story you’re writing, chances are the finished product won’t be very good.
The old cliche is true: write what you know. It doesn’t have to be something that seems immediately exciting and accessible. Just write about something you’re truly passionate about, and that passion will attract readers.
Poets & Writers is a print publication that also maintains an impressive website at pw.org.
This site is your go-to resource for everything related to writing.
You can find huge lists of publications to whom you can pitch your work, as well as a plethora of writing contests and grants that you can apply to right from the site.
It can also be a great way to get in touch with other writers like yourself and swap stories and projects.
Networking is an important aspect of becoming successful in just about any field.
Let your connections do the fact-finding for you. They’ll let you know about new trends and shifts in the industry.
And most importantly, they’ll be able to give you feedback on your own work, which can only help make it better.
Having access to these outside perspectives on your writing and the business of writing, in general, can be a crucial step to becoming a true professional.
Books About Writing
One of the best ways to learn some of the ins and outs of writing is to listen to the experts.
Many popular authors have also published books about their own motivations to write, telling the story of how they came to find success.
Heed their words. Take their advice to heart, or maybe even write some of it down and hang it up on the wall as a constant reminder.
Here are a few great books about writing to get you started.
On Writing – Stephen King
It details his own early interaction with the world of writing, and later on, the world of publishing as well.
There’s advice here, but it’s all to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, becoming a successful writer doesn’t require you to write like Stephen King.
But the book does offer an interesting glimpse into the life of one of the most successful fiction writers of the past 50 years or more.
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
In this compact nonfiction book, William Zinsser sets out to debunk the myth that grammar and simple structure is not important to writing well.
Simply put, Zinsser finds these basic elements to be extremely important to anyone who wants to write something of any real quality.
And if you’ve forgotten many of the rules of basic grammar and usage, fear not: Zinsser provides readers with plenty of reminders here, which will only help keep your p’s and q’s straight down the road.
Why I Write – George Orwell
One of the most complex writing minds of the 1900s shares his deepest motivations and sources of inspiration here, all for your benefit.
This is one that you can read in a single afternoon. And chances are, once you’re finished, you’ll want to start scribbling away yourself.
Writers’ conferences are one of the single best ways to introduce yourself to the writing community.
There are several major conferences scattered throughout the U.S., with many of them either on the West or East Coast.
Can’t afford to foot the travel bill to fly out to New Hampshire? No problem.
All you need to do is fill out an application and submit some of your writing to the conference heads well in advance.
Writing conferences offer workshops as well as many social events where you can meet and greet with industry agents, some of whom may want to help you sell your work.
Find Your Own Way
Each of these steps and resources can do a lot to help you find your artistic voice and, eventually, an audience.
But always remember that there isn’t just one path up the mountain. You need to find which methods and styles work you, personally.
Get to know yourself as a writer first, then you can start to take advice from external sources.
Most importantly, you need to love the work and always want to make it better.