We can all read and write. But you want to know how to become a writer.
Translating your literacy skills into professional writing needs some learning time and plenty of practice for aspiring writers.
It can take a while to develop the new set of skills you will need to make your career transition.
You might have started writing many years ago at high school or for a college newspaper but then let it drop.
Develop your writing skills
Perhaps you can still remember most of what you learned in your literature or creative writing classes.
Better still, if you are interested in learning how to become a writer, taking a short writing course might be an excellent idea.
It will give you the chance to refresh and hone your writing skills before you make your career move.
You will spend some time with other writers. You will have a chance to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
There are many forms that a writing career can take.
Most people would think that a writer is someone who writes books and is an author.
But this is only one small facet of writing. Not everyone can become the next Stephen King.
Professional writing comes in many varied and different career paths.
There are authors, of course.
But also poets, essay writers, content writers, resume writers, ghostwriters, technical writers, bloggers, and copywriters, just to name a few.
Depending on your writing aims or choices, the steps to becoming a good writer and publishing your writing are similar.
Yes, I want to know how to become a writer
What career advice do I need to get started?
For any type of writing career you intend to start, there are three essential qualities you will need to develop.
These attributes are everyday habits for a successful writer.
Yes, becoming a writer means that you will need to write every day.
Whatever you write, it will need to be new, fresh, and above all else, unique.
Practice: Set yourself small assignments such as short stories to write. If you are struggling for ideas, search for writing prompts to inspire you.
Then decide on your desired word count, say between 500 and 1,000 words.
Set yourself a time limit of, say, 2 hours for 750 words a day. Start by writing a few sentences first as an outline and then write your piece.
If you set aside the time to write at least a few times a week, you will get into a very good writing habit.
Everything you write must be clear and to the point. A reader should understand your point of view, your story, or your argument quickly and easily.
This doesn’t mean that you need to dumb down your writing.
But take care to make sure that you are writing clearly and using sentences and phrases that are relatively easy to read and understand.
Practice: Check your writing tasks with one of the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests.
These tests are useful when you want to measure how easily people can understand a piece of text that you write.
There are many free test sites online you can use, but here is one you can try.
This is the most important of these three criteria.
Spelling accuracy and correct grammar usage are vital. You cannot excuse basic errors and typos in any form of professional writing.
Practice: It might take a while for you to learn or refresh your grammar knowledge. But there are hundreds of online tools that can help you.
If you use Microsoft Word, you should enable the in-built spelling and grammar checker.
While it is not perfect by any means, it’s a start and moderately helpful. But always turn off auto-correct because it can make more errors than it corrects.
For much better and more accurate analysis and results, many writers, including myself, use a dedicated online grammar and spelling checker.
I have used Grammarly for many years, and it works perfectly for me.
It is an excellent writing tool and comes in both free and pro versions.
But there are many other grammar tools that you can use.
If you notice that you are making certain errors consistently, you can learn and change your bad writing habits.
Try to develop better grammar, punctuation, and spelling accuracy.
How to become a writer and turn it into a paying job?
It depends on what, when, and how you want to write.
Finding work as a full-time writer is not easy.
But if you think it is time to move on, making writing your small business is a much better idea.
Books and ebooks
If you have your heart set on fiction writing to become an author as your dream job, then you really need to consider self-publishing.
For some fiction writers and authors, this has proved to be a lucrative form of writing.
You might prefer to write non-fiction, Self Help, and How-To books. They are very popular with readers on ebook retailers such as Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks.
But be aware, there are winners and losers in book publishing of any form.
Article and content writing
Content writing is usually the easiest way for a lot of people to start a new writing career. Because you can start slowly on a part-time basis, it gives you time to learn as you go.
You will need to learn about writing web content around keywords.
This is a vital element in getting search engines to index and rank online content and articles.
You can either opt to sell your content articles directly to sites that pay for fresh content.
Or you can offer your content for free by guest posting, but include affiliate marketing backlinks within your article.
Freelance writing is another popular means of earning money from writing. However, beware because this is an industry that has a few sharks.
Do your research. Connect with others who work in the field and always check carefully before accepting new assignments.
You can start by investigating lists of paying sites that give links to websites that pay for freelance writers.
Another option you can take is to register with Writers Work to connect with clients posting paying writing jobs.
There are openings for technical writers. Think here of writing user manuals and instruction guides.
The best way to find jobs in this area is probably via Linkedin or jobs advertised online.
Starting your own blog or online magazine can be hard work at the beginning.
But the rewards of a monetized blog are long-term and can provide a steady income.
You can turn a blog into your own business. You can then look for opportunities to develop, grow, and expand your readership and income streams.
It is a job that requires some technical knowledge. But, more importantly, you need a desire to learn and acquire new skills on top of your ability to write blog posts.
The best part about having your own blog is that you are in control and feel free.
Once it is established, your income will be quite predictable each month. If you work hard at it, blogging really can certainly become a full-time paying job.
Starting a writing career later in life
It isn’t unusual in these days of insecure employment to find yourself looking for a new professional direction. Sometimes at an age when it is not so easy.
Yes, it can take a while to develop writing into a paying endeavor.
But writing offers the benefits of being home-based with next to no set-up costs. It can be attractive if you have to leave your job or you are planning your retirement.
It also allows you to work when you want and not be restricted by a 9 to 5 existence.
You can also kiss goodbye to rush hour traffic or commuting and spend more time with your family and friends.
The best piece of advice in making writing your new business is to have the mindset that it really is a business.
You should consider drafting a very basic business plan to help you clarify your objectives well before quitting your current job.
Maybe you are retired or approaching retirement, and you’re thinking about how to become a writer.
It is a wonderful way to make some extra cash and have fun at the same time.
The keys to becoming a great writer
There are no secrets here. People who become professional writers and succeed do one thing well. They work hard.
If writing, working hard, and learning is not your cup of tea, then you should choose something else.
Apart from writing, you need to build your network of contacts. This might include local newspapers, article buyers, and service providers such as proofreaders or editors.
Even if you can’t afford an editor, every writer needs more pairs of eyes.
So if you want to become a novelist, you should build a contact list of beta readers. Social media is a terrific way to develop your list.
For bloggers, you will definitely need some professional software or plugins and perhaps a WordPress developer.
Try to form a good business relationship with people like this.
They can really help you along the way with advice and assistance, as well as providing their products and services.
Do you still want to be a writer?
Writing is not a job that a lot of career changers will choose.
But for those who have the drive and tenacity, it can bring a wealth of rewards.
Being published in any form gives you a winning feeling and a sense of achievement.
If you can convert that success into a reliable part-time income, you are on your way. Good luck with your new career goals and becoming a professional writer.