Sep 162010
 

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.

Help for Writers and Bloggers

In 75 Tips for Making Money Blogging, I share how I've been making money blogging since 2008.

Do you want to be a writer - but you can't quite seem to "get there"?
73 Tips for Firing Up (or Just Firing!) the Muse.

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”?

  28 Responses to “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.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  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!!!

  4. Hi, aummm, to tell you the honest truth I’m 15 years old, yet! Do not look down on the power of youths! ^^”

    I love writing, no lie, i love it. I can recall myself as a young girl growing up always reading books, and now, I’ve even began writing my own. I enjoy using my skills to write about various things whether experiences or fantasies. Because writing is something i really enjoy, i decided that a future with it is what i want to pursue. I know I’m young and that i still have a lot of other choices out there that will change my mind. But this is something i want to do and something i know deep within is my destiny. I want to be an author but i know there are many challenges out there and in the path that i choose to take there are countless obstacles. I just want to know really what keeps you going?

    Sorry if i’m talking up your time and if this question does get answered, please explain the real determination and dedication that is needed

  5. Hello Kelly and Pryanka,

    Congratulations on your accomplishments so far! Part of overcoming the fear of being a writer is savoring what you’ve already achieved. Use that as a springboard to even more success.

    If you want to be a writer, you need to break down your goal into small steps. For example, if you want to freelance for magazines, then you need to figure out what topics you’re interested in and knowledgeable about. Then, you need to research what magazines welcome new freelancers.

    Starting your writing career is easier if you get very specific about what you want to write. There are so many different types of writing jobs! If you’re too vague, and you keep thinking “I want to be a writer”, then you won’t get anywhere. You need to break it down to the nuts and bolts of writing.

    I strongly suggesting reading books about writing. I read tons of books about freelancing, which is why I was successful at it. Then I got bored of it, and decided to take a different path :-)

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best in your writing career.

    Sincerely,
    Laurie

  6. Hi Laurie,

    A quick question?? I have always wanted to be a writer, It is something that has been with me for as long as I can remember and is still with me today! The problem for me is I had to leave school when I was 14 and have felt since, and still feel today that I do not have the tools to write well, However, I have just finished my degree, returning to education after 16 years. This has been a great accomplishment for me but has not improved my fear of writing. At the moment I am reading ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ it is a wonderful book and has inspired me to ask for advice, so here I am!

    If you could comment me with any advice it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  7. Hi Laurie,

    I wanna start my writing carrier… even i have some ideas but i feel like that it wont ignite the readers much… what must i do….? and even i don’t know that after completing what i wanna write.. what i’ve to do to publish it… and do i need someone to read my book and make correction or so… or my own real words…in short is it compulsory to work under a mentor…??? please help… m in a great confusion…!!!
    I’l be really thankful to you….! :)

  8. so helpful advice..
    i really wanna be a writer, and i know i’m not alone..
    thanks for the article..
    love it..!! ^_^

  9. i really want to be a writer i start writer and i will be dreaming by writer every one think that writing is soo simple but not me i try to have a strong english and i had it now i am 12 years old. all of my friends was loufing on me because they said you can be like that you should know that but i want to be a writer to be know who i am i want to be a writer to tell a people who lost their dreams not stop every thing the do and let is go away try again try and thanks about listing me my story which i am writing about it is called computer savage

  10. Danielle,

    You’re SO not alone! I daresay 95% of writers feel stuck and need to find a way to get out of the “I want to be a writer, but I can’t write!!” perspective.

    I wrote this article for you:

    Lost the Ability to Write? How Writers Get Their Grooves

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there…

    And remember: the only thing that can stop you from writing is YOU. Yes, other people can make demands (kids, spouses, work), but you CAN snatch a few minutes here and there to write. I remember this one writer who would write on her kid’s back when he was lying across her lap. She’d just pull out her notebook and pen, and scribble away despite all the hubbub.

    Anyway, check out the article…it may help!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  11. hi laurie,

    my name is danielle im 27 years old married with 2 children i have wanted to writ ever since i can remember, and i use to do it an awlful lot as a teenager, but as i got older and had my children i never got round to doing it and now feel as tho i am stuck, almost as if i dont have the ability to write anymore.
    Any help or tips you have would be greatly appreciated xxxx

  12. Dear Anima,

    This is the perfect time to start your writing career – when you’re young!

    Here here a few dozen articles for people who want to write:

    Articles on Freelance Writing

    Take it one step at a time. Probably your first step is to figure out what kind of writer you want to be. Fiction? Freelance magazine? Copywriter? Poet?

    Then, after you’ve figured out your genre or specialty, you need to learn as much as you can about it.

    And, practice, practice, PRACTICE. Write every day!

    Take a look at the articles on freelance writing — it’ll get you started. And, feel free to ask specific questions on any of them.

    Happy writing,
    Laurie

  13. I want to be a writer but am still young. Now completing undergraduate as materials engineer and i don’t know how to start. I am in Ghana and i can’t really see the opportunities. I am clueless about how to start out..HELP!

  14. You’re welcome for the writing advice, Matilda…I hope your writing dreams come true :-)

  15. I wanna be a writer I thing I have a lot experience that I want to share but I don’t know how to start

    Thanks for the advices above

  16. If the link about doesn’t work, this one will:

    73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire) the Muse: How to Write Even When You Don’t Wanna, or Think You Can’t

    If you want to be a writer, learn what other writers do!

  17. Hi Cirsten,

    I understand how you feel – and I’m sure that 99% of writers feel the same way! We all struggle with fears, doubts, uncertainties, and an inner critic that tells us not to bother.

    Here’s an article and an ebook to get you started:

    Want to Write More Creatively? Stop Killing Your Creativity! – an article from a publication coach who has a very helpful weekly newsletter.

    73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire) the Muse: How to Write Even When You Don’t Wanna, or Think You Can’t – tips and advice from dozens of authors, freelancer writers, and bloggers.

    And, I encourage you to stop wondering if your writing is worth reading. Instead, just focus on what you’re writing, why you want to write it, and what story you have to tell. Write from your heart…and the rest will take care of itself.

    I hope this helps!

    Happy writing,
    Laurie

  18. I’ve always been interested in writing and have written a fair few poems. I started writing poetry when I was about 15 (I’m now 23). I love books and they way they make me feel and I’ve always wanted to write a book of my own that would bring the same job I’ve had reading to other people. My problem is that I have no idea where to start. Writing poetry is one thing. It’s less daunting and doesn’t require as much time and effort. I worry that I won’t be able to write anything worth reading. As a result, whenever I try to think of a good storyline or plot for a book I come up blank.

    I was just wondering if anyone has any ideas or advice on where I should start.

  19. Thanks for being here, Andrew! It sounds like you want to be a writer more than anything in this world…and I believe that alone can help you succeed.

    I wish you all the best, and hope you return to share your writing success stories! And the trials, too…for there will always be the depths of desperation in a writing career…

  20. I have noticed that it has been a few weeks since anyone has said anything on this site. I’m just going to post this because at the moment I am extremely vulnerable to speaking about this topic. I have always wanted to be a writer. Profession-wise, there is no other job that I believe could suit me. Nothing else that I could actually be interested in, writing… I could consider that to be my life. I know it’s hard and doesn’t pay well, but that’s how life is. We sacrifice so much so that we may be able to live happily in the state we wish to live. As I type right now I can feel an ache in my chest. The urge to mold myself into a writer is incredibly powerful. I seen this site and have been given further hope that I might be able to make something of myself. In my near nineteen years of life, I have wanted this. I thank you all, and hope that I might be as well off into this as you. Thank you.

  21. Do you want to be a writer because you want to make good money, or do you want to be a writer because you want to write?

    A writing career may not pay well, but it’s a fulfilling, interesting, exciting path…and most definitely not a waste of time.

  22. @JR PENN: You should proud of yourself for having been a carpenter! Really, carpenters can actually make $-good$! Now if you’d said you’d been writing for all those years then yes you would have wasted your life because writers don’t earn $hit. There is much too much work involved in that whole process (coming up with ideas, writing those ideas comprehensively,sustaining the interest of readers, editing and revising possibly numerous times, and what’s the pay? Oh a few nickles and dimes, if that).Do yourself a favor and don’t waste time on the writing “profession”. It’s an utter waste of time and energy. Try Burger King! I hear they’re always hiring and the pay is better.

  23. Thanks for sharing your poem here, JR. It really brings the “I want to be a writer” yearning to life!

  24. I started writing back in college (almost twenty years ago) after graduating I wrote nothing! I had literally forgotten every rule, concept, advise, even proper punctuation. I became a carpenter instead. I am now fifty years old and feeling like I wasted my life, my real passion…writing. One year ago I decided to quit drinking alcohol and start getting in better physical condition, and start writing. I know how difficult this sh*t really is, today, more than I had ever known before. I practiced day and night just to relearn proper grammar and punctuation, and I am still making the dumbest mistakes! But I have not intention of quitting. I wrote the following poetic gesture about four days ago and emailed it too many folks, even people I had just met. Keep in mind the name of the poem! Also, this is unfinished work, I will be writing this poem for the next several years.

    THE REAL OLD DEAD POETS SOCIETY…
    REMEMBRANCE.

    I WRITE THESE TEMPORARY PHRASES TO REITERATE MY IMPENDING DOOM,
    A MERE POET TRYING TO IMPACT HIS OWN DESTINY, HOW DARE I?
    THE DAY OF RECKONING IS NEAR, SO I AM TOLD, FORGOTTEN I WILL BE,
    REMEMBERED YES, SO THAT IT CAN BE, AND WILL BE TOLD. FOLLOWED TO THE STARS AND BEYOND, FROM DEFT TO DETERMINATION, MY LYRICS WILL RING LOUD, FOR ALL TO PONDER,
    WHAT LAY IN MY DEVASTATING GLOOM! JUST A POET, JUST A RIGHT, SHOULD I SLEEP TONIGHT, I WONDER? THEY LAY IN THEIR BEDS WITH ABSOLUTE DELIGHT, WHY SHAN’T I.
    FROM D.H. LAWRENCE, DICKINSON, TO SHAKESPEARE, I RATTLED THOSE CAGES TO ABSOLUTE DELIGHT, A TENDERNESS OF SPITE WITH COMPREHENSIBLE FRIGHT. TO SING THOSE GENOUROUS THOUGHTS OF OUR BRIGHT, WHAT A GOD GIVEN RITE!
    POETS OF CENTURIES DECEASED, THERE BY THE GRACE OF GOD GO I. TO EMULATE, TO DISPENSE ALL OF THEIR CRITERIA FOR ALL TO JESTER, FOR ALL TO PRACTICE, FOR THE DEAD POETS TO SLEEP…A HISTORY OF ART, A HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE. TO FINALLY UNDERSTAND THEIR RHETORIC, TO GET THEM…GET THE WISDOM, ALL THAT ENCOMPASSED THEIR PASSION FOR THE WRITTEN WORD…HAVEN’T YOU HEARD?
    WISDOM IS NOT FOR THE MEEK, YET OF THE DISTINGUISHED…LIFE’S ULTIMATE PEARL. TONIGHT I MAKE LOVE TO YOU, WITH MY WORDS, NOT MY GUISE. DON’T BE SURPRISED, THE DAY HAS COME, TO TAKE YOU AWAY FROM YOUR OWN PESSIMISTIC DISGUISE,
    CHANTS OF DERELICTION, UN COMPROMISED AFFLICTION, TIMES OF ADDICTION, WHICH CONTROLLED ALL THEIR PREDICTIONS.
    DEATH IS A SERIOUS THING… LIFE IS NOT. TIME SERVED.

    J. R. PENN

  25. Thanks for your comments! I like the idea of going to the library for inspiration…if those writers can get published, so can we.

  26. Hi Laurie.

    Good advice, all. I highly recommend textbroker as a way to ease into freelance writing without all the hassle of bidding.

    Also, I would add that the hesitant writer take a trip to the local library and spend an afternoon just looking at all of the books. So many titles, so many genres. If there’s room enough for those books, there’s room enough for yours. I’m always inspired.

    Cheers

    George

  27. Great article and great advice. I’m starting my freelance career and its challenging but so rewarding.

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)