It’s an inner pang that pulls at you, summoning you to your notepad, wrenching in your gut to put something insightful on the page. It awakens you in the dead of night, on your morning commute or while showering. Words swarm in your psyche and imaginary characters live on the tip of your tongue. When the call to writing phones, you answer.
For me, the call of writing came at the age of 5. I penned my first series of books “Tom visits his Grandmom” and I’ve been enamored with writing ever since. Every step of my life has been for the love of writing. In high school I studied creative writing and in college majored in Professional Writing. It is truly what I feel I was born to do.
Some writers will tell you that you are either born a writer or you’re not, I don’t believe that. Being a writer is as much about loving the craft as it is knowing the craft. And becoming a writer comes from discipline, practice and a feverish and uninhibited use of your imagination.
Stock your Writers’ Toolkit
- Pen & Notebook: While, I wouldn’t manually pen my memoirs, I do believe every writer must own a notebook and pen. I have tons of notebooks and even have a favorite type of pen (Sharpie Retractable Pens) but I also jot notes in my Blackberry, on Post-It notes, basically anywhere I can get my thoughts out.
- Computer: We live in the Digital Age and having a computer is integral to the craft of writing. From word processing software, selling ebooks to copy-editing, a computer is the writer’s best friend.
- Dictionary & Thesaurus: A writer is only as strong as his/her vocabulary and since I am not a walking wordsmith, Merriam-Webster is my best friend.
- Favorite Place to Write: Having a place where you feel free to unleash your thoughts is extremely important. Most writers will attest to needing peace and quiet, a comfortable chair and space to
screamwrite. My favorite place to write is in bed with a cup of tea.
- Imagination, Discipline & a High Tolerance for Pain: Writing is not easy. Dragging yourself to write when you’re imagination fails you or you feel like every word is gibberish is true torture. But when you love writing and are committed to pushing past your boundaries, then a writer you’ve become.
Here are a few tried and true ways to honor your inner storyteller and start down the path of becoming a writer:
1. Sit down and Write
There’s one thing that the best writers all have in common; they write – a lot! Needless to say, being a writer involves writing down your ideas, stringing semi-coherent thoughts together and trying to evoke emotion. As difficult as it sounds, the first step to being a writer is actually forcing yourself to write.
2. Read More
The second is having an insatiable appetite for reading. So many times people tell me they want to write a book but they don’t read (resounding face slap). In order to become a better writer, you have to read and read and read even more. I can’t stress this enough. Study the greats, read the bestsellers and find writers who resonate with your writing soul.
3. Start a Blog
I’m a huge advocate of blogging. Go figure. However, while there are millions of blogs out there and millions of really poorly written ones, that doesn’t mean yours has to add to the heap. Having a blog is a great place to hone your skills, force yourself to write and do it all on a public forum where people will actually *gasp* read your work.
4. Discover your Genre
When I started out writing, I wrote everything; poetry, fiction, essays, creative non-fiction; you name it! Burgeoning writers should experiment with all genres and discover what niche makes them come alive. While I still enjoy writing poetry, I’m most at home writing fiction, essays and creative non-fiction.
5. Befriend Other Writers
The old hat theory that writing is a solitary endeavor still rings true, however there is nothing like community to stretch and grow your talent. Join a writers’ group, take a class or start a buddy system with another writer where you critique each other’s work. Over the years I have taken online courses with MediaBistro, went to workshops, even studied writing for 4 years in college. All have pushed the limits of my writing and voice.
I leave you with this quote:
“If that desire is strong enough, and persistent enough, you do whatever you have to do to teach yourself how to cross over from being a reader to being a reader who is a writer.” ~ Mary Jo Bang
More Writing Resources
- 25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer via The 99 Percent
- How to Become a Become via Daily Writing Tips
- Writers and Writing Quotes via Quotes Cosmo
- Six Ways to Start the Writing Process via Lifehacker