Like many people in the midst of a global pandemic, you’ve probably considered a career change. Perhaps you’ve realised that you want to work for yourself, and do something more creative. What’s better than learning how to become a writer?
Everyone has some level of writing skills, but we’ve been told you need to have “natural born talent” to truly excel. This is not strictly true – with anything in life, you have to start somewhere.
Trust me, if you went to school for any length of time, you have sufficient knowledge that any aspiring wordsmith needs. Nobody is a natural at anything. Everything we do has been taught to us somewhere down the line.
Even the most successful writers like J.K.Rowling, Dr Seuss and the great William Shakespeare, were not born overnight. They developed their writing skills over many years, and in some cases, decades.
If you want to learn how to become a writer, follow our guide below.
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Read everything you can
The first way of learning how to write is to follow by example, and take inspiration from other people’s writing. Their vocabulary might be new to you, and you might discover a style you really like – you can even imitate them.
Try looking for blogs that have a large following – they must be doing something right to gain such an audience! Take snippets from other people’s work, and combine them with your own. This will make your writing 10x more powerful than trying to guess at what makes great writing.
Don’t just read a book or an article and move on. Analyze everything that you read from now on. Grab a pen, make notes, highlight words or phrases or ideas that resonate with you. Pick out bits that you like and that grab your attention.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to write books, sales pages or website copy, a great wordsmith reads anything and everything. From magazine columns to online articles and even newspaper adverts.
As famous copywriter Joseph Sugarman once said, “the more you have stored in your brain from experiences and knowledge, the more you are able to interrelate that and come up with new combinations of old material”.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Writing is a skill that demands a lot of practice to master.
You can’t just begin your career by reading books alone. Just like a learner driver, you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car having only read the car’s manual.
First, you need to discover what you like to read and write about. Do you enjoy reading certain types of blogs? Start your own! You can set up a free WordPress.com blog in a matter of minutes, so there’s really no excuse.
Maybe you love reading fiction, and have an endless stream of your own story ideas waiting to be jotted down. It’s helpful to start with something that feels familiar, something you’re a little bit ‘clued up’ on.
Every time you put pen to paper or start typing away on your computer, you’re developing your own personal style. In time you will find your flow and it will come more naturally.
Ask your friends and family to read what you’ve worked on, or publish it on websites such as Quora or Reddit. Get some feedback from a real audience and listen to what they want from your content. Constructive criticism is not always nice, but when learning how to become a writer, this is a crucial part of the learning process.
Take a writing course
The best online writing courses will lay out the foundations for any aspiring writer. Anybody can start writing but not everybody will know how to get people to read what you’ve got to say.
You need a course that provides you with actionable tips on how to become a writer, from vocabulary and sentence structure to editing and publishing.
Many people know how to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), but they struggle to make their content appeal to an audience.
The best courses won’t only tell you how to write, they’ll show you with real world examples, from sales copy to magazine articles, to help you understand why those specific combination of words are so successful.
You could read any book and still be oblivious of the tools and techniques that the author used. On the other hand, you could do all the practice in the world but if you don’t know the how and why, you’re going to struggle to get off the starting blocks.
Any course can show you how to write basic English, with token tips and tricks but nothing new to offer. Choose one that takes your current writing skills to the next level.
The best online writing courses will teach you everything you need to know about how to become a writer, whilst reminding you of the basics that you may have forgotten.
Find freelance writing gigs
Once you’ve grown your portfolio a bit, you can start finding clients! Freelance writing is a popular career choice, as it gives you the flexibility to choose your own hours in a freelance writing niche that you enjoy, and the kind of clients you work with.
To find work, simply register on freelancing websites like Fiverr or Upwork, fill out your profile, and start applying! It may be a slow start, but once you get your first client, it’ll be much smoother sailing from there.