How do you become a writer?


The answer here, I think, is very simple. You become a writer by writing. There are no real secrets. You write. You put words in a row. And you keep doing it. Marion Zimmer Bradley once said that the secret of successful writing was applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the typewriter chair and staying there until you got results. I agree.

A common claim is that becoming a writer takes writing about a million words of drek before you start producing reasonably good work. I don't know about it being a million words exactly, but I do think that writing is a craft that improves with practice. There may be some authorial Mozarts out there, producing brilliant prose from practically the first time they strung words together, but I've never met one. For the vast majority of people that will mean a lot of practice (a million words is not unreasonable actually) before it gets to the point of saleably good work.

That practice has to be the best effort you're able to make at that time. You can't just throw some words onto paper without any thought. You have to seriously try.

Finally, writing is work. Don't let anybody tell you any different. It takes time and energy. In my own case, the 2-3 hours I spend in active writing every day (not counting story planning and other activities that occur even when I'm not at the keyboard) are more tiring than the full day I put in at work.

So, to sum up, to become a writer you must write, you must be willing to put in the time necessary to learn the craft, and you must be willing to really work at it.

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