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.
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 cliché!)
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?