Writing, also known as storytelling, is one of the oldest professions in the world. Narrating a story comes naturally to us as humans, and whether we recognize it or not, we do it all the time. From Instagram captions to telling our spouse about how our day went, we as human beings always tell stories, which is why writing will always be a relevant job—and one that is worth pursuing if you feel like you have a knack for it and have something special to say. If you dream of becoming an author or a published writer, here is a step-by-step guide to getting you started.
No matter your job, you need to find time out of your day to do some writing. There is no hard and fast rule about what medium or literary type you need to practice in. You can use a laptop, typewriter, or even pen and paper, and you can do a stream of consciousness or a story with a clear plot. It doesn’t matter. You need to write.
If you want to be a professional author or novelist, writing must become second nature to you. If you’re struggling to start, understand that you might be dealing with some fear, and you need to remember that it’s just you and the page—and there is ultimately nothing to be scared of at this point in the journey.
Decide on the kind of writer you want to be
What industry do you want to be in? Fiction? Non-fiction? Poetry? Journalism? Investigative journalism? Content writing? Copywriter? The word “writer” can mean many things these days, which is why you need to identify the kind of professional writer you want to be. You can be all of these things at once, too; you can find a steady-paying gig as a content writer while working on your passion projects on the side.
Look for a mentor
A crucial part of being a published writer is creating a killer portfolio. For this step of the journey, you will need a second set of eyes to look at your work, like a mentor or an editor. When choosing someone to do this for you, make sure they have experience in the type of content or niche you have chosen. They will help you ensure that your work is readable and has proper formatting. If you want to be a good writer, don’t be a lone wolf.
If you truly want to write for a living, you need to accept that rejection will always be part of the process. You will soon know this once you start submitting your works to various publishers and news outlets. Whichever way you decide to launch a writing career, know that books are not the only way to make money.
There are plenty of channels you can explore, like self-publishing firms, which can help you with the ins and outs of publishing a book without having to rely on traditional publishers to help you get started. The best part is that you will be completely empowered to do your own thing as a writer, and you will have a consultant working with you to answer your questions every step of the process.
Plan, write, revise
There are three steps to writing something of value: Planning, actually writing the thing, and editing. While writing is an art, it’s also a form of science that requires a system and so much discipline. You can’t just rely on bursts of creative energy or eureka moments to create a cohesive piece.
As a first step, map out what you want to write. Do some brainstorming, jot down some ideas. This is the part where you can do some bullet points, illustrations, and free-form. Your goal is to develop some raw ideas and building blocks for your piece and draft them onto paper. The second step is writing the first draft.
Once you start, don’t stop because whatever mistakes you commit can be fixed in the editing phase of your process. And lastly, revise. This part may need to have more than one round because you won’t always find every mistake from the get-go. This system may seem daunting, but it is the best way for you to come up with the best possible pieces.
If you think becoming a published writer is challenging, if not impossible, then break the process down into a few simple and doable steps. Just give yourself the chance to try, keep at it even when you’re hitting plateaus, and enter every open door. You will get better at it even when you don’t feel like it.