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Sounds familiar? Then, by now, you’d probably read everything you could get your hands on, nailed down grammar rules, done your share of staring at the blank screen or piece of paper before finally spilling out words, played with the format, and learned how to build a story and characters.
Now, you want to go for the gusto. But what is it that distinguishes someone who dons the title of “professional” from a hobby writer? NowNow Books is here to cut through the fog and show you the practical steps you need to take if you want to become a writer.
Steps to take if you want to become a writer
Create a consistent writing schedule
As a writer, most likely, you’re filled with ideas. However, if you’re going to turn those ideas into pages, you must make writing a regular habit.
Finding the time and the discipline to write in a jam-packed schedule can be a hurdle, especially if you have a full-time job.
But those who make it past it, on the other hand, are already hallway to ‘making it.’
Create a routine and stay consistent
- Identify a time of day that works best for you. Then, set the same writing time every day – or, if it’s more realistic, every other day.
- Prioritize your projects. Make a list of ideas in order of priority. Then, create an outline, milestones, and deadlines, starting from the first one on your list.
- Define your goals. Whether it’s a daily word count or finishing a task by a set deadline, setting writing goals helps you break large projects into more manageable chunks.
- Have a plan for writer’s block. Writer’s blocks are pretty much unavoidable, so why not plan ahead to use that time productively? For instance, you can do some research on your subject matter and write some prompts.
Set up a writing zone
If you hope to become a full-time, published writer, you need to set up your writing zone.
Sure, you were probably able to eke out some outstanding stories in a less-than-desirable setting. However, a writer’s workspace should be a sacred environment where they’re alone with their wild and inexhaustible imagination.
Having a dedicated workspace takes the guessing out of there you’re going to do your writing every day, thus increasing your motivation and productivity.
- Some privacy and little to no foot traffic: you need to be able to enter your fantasy world.
- A high-quality, ergonomic chair: your office furniture should offer lower back support and help you maintain good posture.
- A plan for organization and storage: the space should be ship-shape. Your paperwork and book collection should be stored out of the way and neatly organized. This way, it won’t be cluttering your desktop space, and you’ll be able to keep it in good condition for years. The same applies to your computer files. So, organize them in folders and label them for easy access.
Equip yourself with the right writing tools
Now that you have the right environment, you need to find the best writing tools for your needs. These can have a tremendous effect on your output in various ways.
For instance, online whiteboards are great for helping writers visually sketch their book outline and character bios. Tools like Grammarly discovers and fixes grammatical errors and typos, whereas word processing apps like SmartEdit, Etherpad, and Focus Writer make writing more manageable.
There are countless other tools and services you can utilize to help you with organization, productivity, formatting, editing, etc.
If you want to become a writer – a professional one – you need the right tools.
Pick up credentials
Creativity and an excellent grasp of the language you write in are two core requirements of being a writer. The rest is much more fluid.
However, seeking relevant, formal education can undoubtedly help writers develop their craft, form a network with other writers, or get them more writing gigs.
This is even more so for nonfiction writers. Further education can include anything from MFA, BA, Ph.D., and an associate degree to certificates/short-term programs offering foundational education and skill-based training.
Get it in front of readers
Once you have produced work you are proud of, it’s time you sniffed out your publishing options. Lucky for today’s budding authors, there are more publishing routes than ever.
For starters, do you want to self-publish or seek a traditional publishing deal? If the latter, are you considering sending your work off to a small independent publisher or a large publisher?
For example, fictional writers can get their foot in the door by submitting their short stories to contests and magazines accepting pitches.
Of course, there are pros and cons to each publishing path. So, take a look at them and decide the one best for you to get your byline out in the world.
Create a strong portfolio
With some publications under your belt, you have everything you need to put together a nicely bundled portfolio and show the world what you can do. For authors who want to build their brand, promote their work, and connect with their audience and fellow creatives, social media is the place to be. So, start sharing your latest pieces and building your following.
The real calling card, however, is your website. It shows to editors, agents, and publishers who look you up that you’re dedicated to your career. Visit GoDaddy or Namecheap to register a domain name, or WordPress, Wix, or SquareSpace to sign up for a free site.
Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional web designer, your website must reflect your brand, list your credentials, and above all — display your work.
Start writing grants and fellowships
At one point or another, you might find yourself with a massive, time-consuming project on your hands. And, at that moment, you’ll realize that love for words alone won’t pay your bills – well, at least not until you start writing professionally full time.
Whether your actual income is patchy or you need something extra to fund your writing, some grant money might do you good.
Aim for editorial collaboration
When the time comes to prepare your work for the big stage, you’ll need some help from a professional editor. The thing is that it’s next to impossible to remain completely objective about our own work, regardless of how eagle-eyed we may be.
In other words, they’ll probably spot whatever’s keeping your work from being as effective as it could be. Plus, they have the necessary knowledge of the craft and genre expectations, but also the publishing business and today’s market.
All this means they’ll save you enormous amounts of time and anguish in deepening, developing, and polishing your story. That’s why a creative needs an editor.
In truth, even editors need editors. And while such collaboration may be on the somewhat expensive side, it’s well worth it.
All creatives benefit from a competent editor.
A final word from NowNow Books: ready to become a writer?
These are some practical steps you ought to take if you want to become a writer. Actually, scratch that – if you wish to become a professional writer. Best of luck on your journey!