The Big 6 Habits Everyone Needs to Develop to Become a Writer
We’ve all been cooped up for what seems like a very long time now, and many of us are starting to think about that long neglected dream we’ve never had the time to pursue. If you’ve ever thought you might like to become a writer, this may be the time.
If you’re wondering what steps you can take to jumpstart the process, let me share with you how I began. I promise it’s not that complicated if you break it down into incremental steps.
I began writing as a way to process some lifestyle changes and to decide what it was that I wanted to do next. I’d recently retired and found that life of leisure wasn’t as attractive as it looked from the other side of the actual event.
I needed the kind of personal satisfaction I previously garnered from my career. I felt disoriented without purpose, so I began writing as a way to sort out what I needed to fill the void.
Now five years later, in retrospect, having established myself as a writer and published author, producing my own blog, becoming a regular contributor to online magazines such as Sixty and Me, and getting published more often than I ever imagined, I am frankly a bit surprised at how easy it was.
Don’t get me wrong, it takes effort, tenacity, and the courage to put yourself out there, but if you endure, it can happen for you.
Here’s what I found helpful, and in some ways, essential, to set off on my personal pursuit.
Sit Down and Write
I know this seems obvious, but it’s tempting to wait until you’re inspired, until you have the plot developed in your mind, or until you feel better prepared having taken the classes, read the articles, etc.
But it really is about the writing. As Anne Lamott, a contemporary writer and author of, Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life, recommends, “write shitty first drafts” and go from there.
If you have a story or an article in you that wants to come out, sit down and start. Don’t worry about what comes next. It will come to you.
Develop a Routine
Write every day, at the same time of day, for as long as possible. Be disciplined about it. Even if you don’t feel like writing and there’s nothing inside begging to be set free, write anyway.
If you can’t think of anything else, write about writing – how hard it feels at first, how much you want to be a writer, anything that flows. Because those thoughts are tiny pearls strung together with other more lustrous and creative pearls that, once you begin pulling on the strand, will present themselves to you.
Just keep writing.
Write to Write, Not to Be Published
Writing for the sake of writing will free you of the paralyzing fear of being judged or rejected. Worrying about how your work compares or how you will be seen as a person based on your writing, will hamper your ability to open up and write honestly.
Publishing is somewhere down the road. You will get there, but that’s not where you want to start. Be a writer first, an author later.
You must find your individual voice, your unique perspective and the pathway to who you want to share with the world. And the only way to do that is to write like no one is reading your work.
Use Writing Prompts
Writing prompts are designed to stimulate your creativity. They are useful tools, and act as a primer to get your creative juices flowing.
You can find them online on a myriad of writing sites; or do what I do – search Pinterest. There are literally thousands of writing prompts to choose from. Find one that excites you, and let it lead you into a story. No editing allowed, just keep going until you’ve exhausted what you have to say.
Sometimes, the prompts I select would fizzle out in two paragraphs, and I have composed full short stories from others. You don’t know what will flow until you open the valve.
Join a Writing Group
There is nothing better than being surrounded by other writers to motivate you to be better, write more, and hone your craft.
Creativity is contagious. And if you are as fortunate as I have been, you will find within that group the support you need to take risks, tell your truth, and write what matters. Check out Meetup.com or your local bookstore for groups in your area.
Write from Your Heart, Soul, Anger, Angst, and Bliss
Writing is an emotional and very personal endeavor, at least that’s what I believe. The words are arranged in our intellectual mind, but they originate somewhere far deeper. Don’t be afraid to reach in for them. That’s where your best work is waiting.
Scratch the surface if you are unsure, but be willing to dig deeper as your defenses allow. Forget about who may read it; promise yourself no one will, if that’s what you must do to bring it forward. Write what is uniquely yours and put your stamp on it. Make it personal and be authentic.
Writing is a rewarding and satisfying endeavor. I promise if you start with these simple steps, stay with it, and release your inhibitions, you will find sharing your thoughts, perspective, and imagination will change your life. And best of all, it’s likely your words will change someone else’s for the better.
What big dream have you put off for quite some time? Are you ready to get started on it today? If your dream has to do with writing, what’s stopping you from accomplishing it? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversation!