I want to become a writer. But how do I get started? I don’t have much time, but I want to accomplish this dream before it’s too late. Can you help me?
Signed, A Motivated Reader Ready to Become a Writer
Dear Motivated Reader,
I think the best way to get started is to just do it. By that I mean, pull out a pen and paper and start writing. Anything!
If you can’t think of anything, write down, “I’m sitting here with my pen and paper and I’m trying to write, but nothing is coming to mind. Man, this is hard. When do the words start coming? What do I do next…?”
This is called stream of consciousness writing. Just write down whatever you think. It doesn’t need to make sense and it doesn’t have to be good writing. In fact, I suggest not rereading what you write initially.
Just sit down, every day, and write at least one page of this stream of consciousness writing. Set a goal to do this once a day, every day, for the next month.
After that month, you can look back over what you’ve written. But don’t peek before then!
When you do look, understand there will be a lot of writing you think is “bad.” But I also think there will be snippets of writing that contain pure brilliance.
As you continue to write every day, you’ll find the words start coming easier. You’ll start pouring forth thoughts, ideas, and stories that you didn’t realize were just waiting for you to put that pen to paper.
(This practice isn’t an original idea, and it’s got an name: “morning pages.” The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron, and this is the first assignment she provides to any creative who wants to do more, to do better work. Cameron’s suggestion is to sit down, first thing in the morning before you do anything else, and write 3 pages by hand.)
Once you write once a day, every day, for a month — keep going. Keep writing every day.
That’s how you become a writer. You put in the work, you show up, and you create a lot of messy pages filled with writing that probably isn’t very good.
But you’ll find that, if you do this enough, every once in a while you’ll create a few amazing pages filled with writing that is profound, astounding, and beautiful.
And those few amazing pages are so worth all the time, effort, and bad pages that you’ll put in first.
I also suggest reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Both will help you realize that you have everything you need, right here, right now. And the only thing left to do is start.
I wish you the best of luck and I’m excited to see you off on your way. Now, grab a blank notebook and a pen and start today.
PS: Thank you to the reader who sent me this question. I was profoundly touched that you took the time to reach out and ask — and I cannot wait to see you make this dream into a reality. I know you’ve already started.