The dream of becoming a writer is widespread, but very few people actually try to write a book. The process seems overwhelming, with so many people unsure where to even start. As a result, they very often drop the dream before they even try. The good news is that you can write a book even if you are not a writer.
You can turn yourself into a writer by following a process. Whether you have any experience or not, you can become a writer by first coming up with a clear plan, then dedicating regular time to writing, critically reviewing your own writing and then just doing it over and over.
You Can Be a Writer
As a reader, it is very easy to get pulled into a good book and have a dream of being able to produce an engaging story of your own.
The few who take the next step can often get stuck almost immediately before making any real progress. Very few people understand the process it takes to go from dream to first draft of a book and hopefully all the way to publication.
The good news is that the process itself is not really that complex. So yes, you can be a writer.
Of course, you need to put in a lot of work, but once you understand the basic steps to take you from idea to completed book, almost anyone can become a writer.
The real work in this process is having the determination to finish and dedicating enough time to improve to become a great writer.
8 Tips to Not Suck
OK, so how do you become a writer?
Let’s go over the process a new writer can follow to write a book.
There are, of course, many more long detailed guides and plenty more tips and tricks we can give you on your journey to becoming a great writer, but first, let’s follow 8 simple, straightforward tips that will take you from zero writing to your first book.
Coming soon: How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide Start to Finish
Don’t Just Start! Plan With an Outline
Let’s start with the first and most common mistake new writers make, and that is to jump in and begin trying to write a story.
What will typically happen is that you will quickly have no idea what you want to do with the story and grind to a halt. This can immediately put you off writing before you have even started to make any progress.
So step one is do not write your story yet. Instead, have a plan you can follow by creating an outline.
Start by creating a high-level summary of your story. Make sure it has a clear, interesting beginning, an exciting ending and a few key plot points for the middle of the story.
At this point, you don’t have to make the outline too long or too detailed. Just make sure you have something that gives you a clear place to start and a direction to follow to the conclusion.
If you try to make it too complicated at this point, you can get also get overwhelmed.
Once you are more experienced, you may decide that you work better with a much longer and more detailed outline. Some writers choose the opposite and go with a very high-level plan for all their books.
Make The Process Fun
If you try to write something do you not really interested in, it can be tough to stay motivated. So make sure to pick a story type that you are excited about.
What do you usually read?
Don’t try to chase whatever you think is most likely to get you the most money. For example, there is no point in trying to write a romance if you hate romance novels.
It will not be a fun experience, and you are pretty likely to give up way before you even complete a full draft of a book.
Instead, pick a genre and create a storyline that will keep you coming back to the keyboard each and every day excited to continue writing the story.
Create interesting characters
Before trying to write a whole chapter, the next step is to make sure you come up with interesting characters.
Once again, it’s tough to stay engaged if you don’t have a leading character you look forward to putting in exciting situations.
Spend time first coming up with each of your main characters. Typically this could be one or two lead characters but also some of the main secondary characters.
Come up with a character profile for each, say three to five people for now. Write a description for them, including things like what they look like, how they dress, their personality, interests, hates and anything else about them you can think of to create a fascinating and well-rounded person.
This does not need to be an extended essay on each one—just a clear list of bullet points and a few short sentences on each item.
The more you know about them at this point, the easier it will be to write about them later.
OK, now that we have a good outline and some interesting characters, it’s time to actually start writing.
Start with a single scene that you have a clear idea of what you want to write. For example, it could be the first time we meet our lead character or their first encounter with the bad guy.
The main idea when you first start is to not try to tackle a 5000-word chapter.
Pick a single scene that you can write in a few hundred words. It does not necessarily need to be the very first scene in the book; just pick one that you are excited to write about as a starting point.
This will give you more confidence if you can start and finish it successfully.
Don’t aim too high at the first go. Once you have successfully done one, then do another. And then another. Increase the amount you write and the complexity of the scenes as you gain confidence.
At some point, if you have not started your story in order, you will need to go back and start filling in any gaps to complete your story.
Set an Achievable Goal
Writing a single scene at a time as your starting point is an example of setting an achievable goal.
This is a very important item if you are a new writer. If you think about completing a whole book, it can be very daunting when you realize that it could be 50 or 60,000 words, possibly more.
So think smaller and set yourself an achievable goal that you can realistically meet. Your goal will obviously be based on how much time you have each time. Pick a goal that you can reach before the end of each session. That might be completing a single scene, one page or a specific word count.
Tailor this based on your own needs but just make sure it is realistic and achievable.
Again, don’t set yourself up for failure!
Repeat Repeat Repeat
The next step is very straightforward. Once you have written something, do it again.
You just need to make sure you set yourself a regular writing schedule and then repeat the process again and again until you end up with a completed manuscript.
The best way to learn something is to do it regularly and often as you will improve a little bit each time. The more often you write, the faster you will improve as a writer.
Accept Failure and Plan to Push Past.
At some point, you will have to accept that you have failed at something.
It may be a single scene or chapter that you simply cannot get in a form you are happy with. You may end up with a whole storyline that simply is not working out.
Unfortunately, part of being a writer is sometimes accepting failure but most importantly not letting this stop you from continuing.
Either find a way around the problem or move on to a new project. Just do not let it stop you from writing.
Lastly, at some point, you will have to get help to continuing to advance, which means letting someone see your work.
Many people are very reluctant to let anybody see their writing until they are completely satisfied with a draft. But, unfortunately, it is not unusual for writers to be never fully satisfied.
Nobody has to see your book until you are ready. If book 1 is really not good enough, write another until it is good enough to show people.
But be careful not to fall into the trap of using that as an excuse to just never show anybody your writing.
Find yourself someone who can read and give you honest, helpful feedback.
Often the best way to do this is to search out a local writers group. The members are fellow writers in the same situation as you and are more likely to give you good advice to help you improve.
Make sure to return the favor and help each other!
So yes, anyone can be a writer. It may not be easy to master writing as a creative art form, but the process of writing itself is pretty straightforward.
It just takes dedication, hard work and a willingness to keep pushing past the roadblocks that you will encounter.
Are you working on your first book? Let us know in the comments how it is going!