Becoming a writer in 8 simple steps

becoming a writer

After years of contemplation and countless attempts at overcoming self-doubt you have finally decided to jump in head first, you want to write.

Whether you are planning to blog about your personal travel experiences or produce professional level articles for a publication there are a few key points that you should keep in mind.

To avoid being another boring guide on how to become a fabulous writer, this list is purely opinion but tapping into many years of creating compelling content has given me an insight that I believe you will appreciate. Warning: I don’t beat around the bush.

1.       Pick up a grammar guide

The classic manual Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is a writer’s favorite. If you don’t have it, buy it. If you are planning to write news articles pick up a copy of the AP Stylebook – aka the journalist’s bible.

2.       Be pithy

If you can successfully get your point across in 350 words don’t stretch it to 800. I have lost count on how many articles I have read that go on and on and on… expressing the same subject matter dozens of ways within the same piece. Keep it clear and keep it concise.

3.       Avoid exclamations

Your writing should express emotion on its own so there really is no need overuse exclamations. Quite frankly I try to avoid them completely. And by all means please do not use more than one!!!! As illustrated by my previous sentence.

4.       Read

If your goal is to become a famous travel blogger then read travel blogs. If you want to become the next great journalist read articles. Learn from the best to become the best.

5.       Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid to receive a little criticism. Trust me once your writing is out there you will receive it whether you like it or not. Approach someone you trust, preferably someone who is either a writer or an avid reader, and ask their opinion. Don’t be defensive but instead be receptive. Hint: Find someone who is constructive and honest but not too honest. Being told you suck isn’t considered constructive.

6.       Relax

Don’t be robotic in your writing, try to relax. Think of your piece as a written extension of a conversation. You can be professional without sounding like a machine. Now this is where some may say it’s ok to break a few grammar rules to remain conversational. I have a three word response to this piece of advice, no, no and no. We all make grammatical errors but doing it purposefully is folly. 

7.       Practice makes perfect, well almost

You need practice to improve results in any activity from golf to driving to competitive eating (gross by the way) to writing. You won’t become perfect but you will definitely make strides toward becoming a proficient writer by practicing. That means you need to actually write which leads to the next point.

8.       Suck it up buttercup

Stop being a chicken, write something and publish it on your own personal blog or even submit it to a publication.  Don’t make excuses get yourself out there.

 

Eric Fortney
Twitter:
@elfortney