I get a lot of questions about what it takes to be a writer. Some people love to write but they don’t know if they can make a career out of it. Others want to write a book, but they are not confident about their writing skills. Whatever category you fall into, I hope that this post will help you kick-start your journey as a writer either as a commercial writer or on a more personal basis.
The first thing I will say is that to become a writer, you must write. It sounds obvious but it is the plain truth. Get a dedicated jotter and start writing. Write about what you ask? Write about anything. I mean it; anything. Everyone I know that writes has a journal where they write down their thoughts. Some people write poems or stories. Your journal is for you and you alone. Write anything you choose, even if it seems crazy. My journal was a part of me when I was younger. I wrote how I felt. If something made me angry, I wrote it in my journal and I automatically felt better. So start with a journal. It will help you to hone your writing skills and develop your writing style.
Once you have a journal and you have a routine of writing in it at least once a day, start reading good books. You cannot be a good writer if you don’t read. It won’t happen. Reading the works of others opens you up to the different writing styles that exist. This is especially useful if you want to be a fiction writer. One thing I do when I read books is to critique it. If I read a book that is 100% engaging, I ask why. I find out what the writer did to keep me glued to the book. If the book is boring, I think of ways the book could have been better written. Another thing I would add is that you should read widely. Don’t limit yourself to a particular genre or field. Exposure one of the keys to being a good writer. One book I really recommend for anyone who wants to be a writer is Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. It will ginger you.
As you become comfortable with writing, get someone or people to critique your work. This can be anybody you choose but please choose someone who will encourage you. Having someone critique your work is a form of feedback. It lets you know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. When I used to write short stories as a kid, my aunty was my regular reader. She read all of my stories and asked questions about the plot. This was mainly because I never used to finish my stories. Two years ago when I decided to become a more serious writer, I posted some of my work on NaijaStories and the feedback I received from other writers really encouraged me. It’ll be great for you to join one of such forums.
The last point I will make in this post is that you should make yourself visible. The best training you can get as a writer, especially a commercial one, is to write for a publication. Look for magazines and newspapers that are looking for writers. Also look for avenues to be a contributor. Forget the money at the initial stage. Also be prepared for rejection. Once you are determined, something will click. You can also start a blog. My blog has really improved the way I write and it is a means of advertising for me. My blog has been used to evaluate my skill as a writer. Some people even contact me to use content from my blog.
I hope you have found this post useful. I will share more tips on being a successful writer in the coming weeks.