How to Be a Writer in 5 Easy Steps

For those who don’t know (or haven’t read my about page yet), I’ve been crazy enough to call myself a writer for 20 years. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. If you do the math (yes, I know, math sucks), you’ll find out I’ve been writing since I was not quite 14.

Now, if you want to talk serious writing, I’ve been doing that since I was around 22. Maybe 23. For a short period of time, I even called myself a professional writer. Published? Yes. Several times in a few publications, online and off (mostly off and under a different name so good luck finding those articles).

Because of my experience, I thought I’d offer five steps on becoming a writer, if you’re brave (or crazy) enough to go down that road.

Step 1: Develop a caffeinated drinking habit (if you don’t already have one)

Caffeine will be your friend. Frequently. There is no escaping this no matter how hard you try. I’m sure there might be a few writers out there who have never had caffeine but I wouldn’t trust them if my life depended on it.

Now, if you don’t like coffee or tea (what the hell is wrong with you?) there’s also the option of soda. I avoid it like it has a case of the Bubonic plague but if that’s your poison then go for it.

How to Be A Writer

If you do like coffee, get a Keurig. Trust me on this. It’s changed my life.

Oh, and if you drink, a good bottle of wine or three comes in handy late at night when insomnia kicks in.

Step 2: Grab a pen & paper + your laptop/desktop computer

These will come in handy and are essential for being a writer. And if you think you can get away with only using one of these two things think again. I’ve tried and it was scary. I tell myself, “I’ll remember that when I’m back at my laptop.” Yea, right. I’ve forgotten roughly 99.9% of the time.

When out and about, take a cheap notebook. Or a [somewhat overpriced but still fucking awesome] Moleskine notebook. And never, I repeat…never leave the house with fewer than 3-4 pens. It’s almost guaranteed that one or two will crap out on you when you need it most.

Step 3: Abandon your sanity

There’s no room in the writing world for sanity. I’ve tried. Being sane in any fashion has led to dry, boring posts. Who wants that? Blech. Abandon your sanity and let that writer freak flag fly!

Step 4: Have a sense of humor

Seriously, this is important. A good, no, scratch that…a great sense of humor can help you tremendously on the days where you want to pull your hair out, swear excessively or pitch a shit fit when writer’s block kicks your ass or your inner editor is being a giant douchebag. Keeping things in perspective and laughing your ass off at the absurdity that writing can be will make life a lot easier.

Step 5: Plant butt in chair and WRITE

I know, I know. Captain Fucking Obvious, right? Writers write. That’s really all there is to it. And the best thing about this is that all of the above steps can be changed to suit your interests, lifestyle or weird quirks (we all have them, don’t pretend you don’t).

Despite the countless frustrations over the years along with confusion, uncertainty and “Why the hell do I keep doing this to myself?” moments, I love being a writer. It’s been one hell of a wild ride over the years but I wouldn’t change it for anything. (Helllooooo clichΓ©!)

If you are a writer, what do you enjoy most? If you aren’t (or haven’t yet declared yourself a writer), what is stopping you, if anything? And finally: What is your favorite thing to write about?

| Filed under Word Nerd Stuff

25 thoughts on “How to Be a Writer in 5 Easy Steps

  1. I couldn’t agree with all of this more, especially the part about notebooks and getting a keurig. I love mine so much, I don’t know what I did before I had it. I think the thing I like the most, and struggle with the most, is starting new projects. Unfortunately, I like starting them so much that I never finish anything. I just get about 50k words written and move on to something else. I can’t quite get it done, clearly something I need to work on. πŸ˜€
    Kristyn recently talked about…Superstition ain’t the way…My Profile

    1. I hear ya, Kristyn. I’m occasionally bad with projects as well. I’m sure that like most creative types you probably get bored quickly so you move on to the next thing when that happens. I’m like that. Sometimes I can stick to one thing (like my blog and photography for example) but I have to be passionate about it and can have ways to mix things up once in awhile in order to make it last for the long term.

  2. Which is what? I don’t know about you but mine is usually whatever I was wearing the night before! Or black. Must have black.

  3. I started writing around age nine or ten. I had chosen poetry, songs, etc.; my stories were poor and “unrealistic”, according to my mom and stepfather, which made me stop writing them (even though my teachers and others in my life loved them). Now, I am so burnt out on poetry and songwriting, and I enjoy story writing. Occasionally, I’ll write a song or a poem, but the inspiration has to hit me hard, which doesn’t happen often.

    I don’t drink coffee or tea. :p Soda and water, however, work best for me. Coffee and tea are molds, and I’m allergic to such.

    I think the most important thing is to just write. I think another important thing is to read — but a lot of people think reading to better their writing means to read people who write like they do. This works out rarely — because if you’re wanting to expand your vocabulary, and they have a superb one, of course you’ll learn; but if you want to improve your writing overall (vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, etc.), and theirs is the same as yours is, then it isn’t so great… The latter (reading people who write like you do) is what I have been seeing a lot of lately and more often being suggested on blogs, which is rather frustrating. 😐

    1. Since you have an allergy to coffee and tea I’ll forgive you for not drinking either. It’s the ones who do it willingly that I don’t trust. Haha.

      Also, I agree with you about writing. Though sometimes reading is the kick I need to get back to writing again and it helps to read stuff I don’t normally read. I’m usually into non-fiction a la travel memoirs, biographies or true crime stories. I’ve recently gone back to reading fiction so I can get the imagination and creativity stirring again. That definitely helps when I’m in a rut.

  4. Hey stranger! How the heck are you?? Great post as always but #1…what happened to alcohol and filtering the next morning lol πŸ™‚

  5. Used to be a coffee drinker, but I woke up one morning and realized that I’d switched to tea. lol.
    I always have to carry a notebook around with me to jot down an idea. Not to make excuses but my ADHD really makes my memory bad and if I don’t I’ll definitely forget my earth shattering idea later and end up hating myself! But I’ve been writing since I was about 12, but I haven’t started to do serious writing until this year. It’s funny that you say that, because I’m 23. lol.

    1. I need a notebook on hand at all times, even if I end up not writing in the damn thing that day or any day that week. Haha.

      Good luck with the writing! Nice to see someone else started taking it seriously around the same age.

  6. My coffee must be half decaf or I will have to go to the hospital. Don’t judge. But that little bit of caffeine helps me get through it. I do all of the above and the times I haven’t had a notebook on me? Fuhgetaboutit. Which is what I do. What do I love the most about writing? Spewing my shit out on paper and the therapeutic feeling I get from it. Also, that I feel totally cool doing it. My favorite thing to write about? Anything that allows me to get my bitch on.
    Maureen recently talked about…Hairy Legs and Brain FartsMy Profile

  7. I love your badass attitude. Over the years, yes, I’ve been a writer, and have been paid to write. I thought I was pretty good at one time, since I kept hearing that. But I’ve lost my confidence, somehow, along the way. Life’s ups and downs have got me down…and with a sucky, dead-end nonprofit job that seldom pays me for working 50+ hours a week, the downs are more frequent than the ups….hey, maybe I’ve got a topic to write about here! NAH…that would be too depressing! I want to write about rainbows and butterflies and doggies and kittens romping in the sunshine along Route 66….anyway, thanks for the inspiration and the laughs. I know I have it in me, but it’s in hiding…at least for now.

  8. Well said and with a wit and burst of energy on the subject. I’m impressed you are able to bridge two areas of artistic endeavor both the written and visual.
    Me? Written? Meh.. Visual a work in progress and most likely ongoing for my existence. Coffee love and lack of any sane train of thought well, I’m gold medal for that. Keep doing what you do well and enjoy and continued success.

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