“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

How to Become a Writer: 3 Simple Steps

So you want to become a writer.

Perhaps you write because it makes you feel alive. Perhaps you once read a book that made you think, “It must feel amazing to write something like this. Maybe I could be a writer.” Perhaps you feel like you can’t not write.

So then, how do you do it? How do you become a writer?

Get the Free eBook: 10 Steps to Becoming a Writer contains the best wisdom I’ve learned on how to become a writer. This post contains three short steps from the full eBook. Click here to download the eBook.
That's me, Joe Bunting, and I'm a full-time writer. Photo by Carly Jean.

That’s me, Joe Bunting, and I’m a full-time writer. Photo by Carly Jean.

You Never Stop Becoming a Writer

Several years ago I became a writer. I’m not talking about the moment when I quit my job to write full-time. That happened much later. No, I became a writer when I started writing.

I still remember making the decision to write and publish one article per day on my blog. It wasn’t much, but this small habit was the beginning of my life as a writer.

Since then, I’ve written four books and more than a thousand articles. I’ve been published in national magazines and became a bestselling author. But that one decision changed my life.

No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease becoming, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.

Why do you want to become a writer? Share in the comments section.

3 Steps to Becoming a Writer

Below are the three best pieces of wisdom I’ve learned about how to become a writer. To read more about becoming a writer, get full guide below.

1. Publish

Really? Step number one is to publish? Isn’t that backward?

It’s strange to begin a list of writing tips with a tip to publish. In fact, as I read books and articles about how to become a writer, most of them don’t even mention publishing. They usually say, “Just Write!”

However, writers write things other people read, and so the act of publishing is essential to being a writer.

If you want to become a writer, you need to get used to writing for others. You need to practice taking feedback and dealing with rejection. You also need to start earning some fans.

You do this by publishing, publishing small and regularly. What is stopping you from printing out one of your writing pieces and giving it to a friend? Or publishing it online as a blog post or even a Facebook note?

Think of it as practice for when you publish with that big New York publisher. (It could be a while, so you may have a lot of time to practice!)

2. Set deadlines, or better, get someone else to set them for you (and then keep them)

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
—Douglas Adams, author

Deadlines are meant to induce stress. I know none of us really wants more stress in our lives (do you?), but most writers I know struggle with two things: discipline and focus. A good deadline helps with both.

A little bit of stress focuses you. A good deadline can keep your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keys much better than “inspiration,” that fickle muse, ever could.

How, then, do you set good deadlines so they don’t whoosh by as they did for Mr. Adams?

The best deadlines are set by others, by editors or freelance writing clients or even your fans.

The most effective deadline I ever set was to write one article on my blog every day. I did this while maintaining a full-time job. What made this deadline especially effective was the people holding me accountable were my readers, a small group at the beginning but eventually a large, clamoring audience.

When you know people are waiting for your writing, you become a much more disciplined writer.

HINT: People are waiting for your writing. When are you going to give it to them?

3. Become acquainted with boredom, comfortable with writing-induced misery.

At some point, I’ve wanted to quit every major writing project I’ve ever worked on, and most writers I know have similar experiences.

When I was finishing my first book, I became so frustrated and hopeless with my writing that I knelt on the floor, put my face in my hands, and cried (a very macho, manly cry, of course).

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I thought. “I don’t want to write this book. I don’t want to be a writer at all anymore. I never want to feel this stupid again.”

But after a little while, I got up, and I wrote a few more words. The next day, I wrote a few more. A month later, the book was finished and sent off to the editor.

That moment on the floor was the turning point, the beginning of the end of writing my first book, and now I remember that moment every time writing is at its most frustrating and hopeless, and I know I’m nearly finished.

Write through the mess. Write through poor grammar and awkward tense changes and switches in POV. Keep writing even when you know as you’ve known nothing else before that what you’re writing is worthless. When you’re in the middle, good and bad are meaningless. Just keep writing.

Are You Ready to Become a Writer?

how to become a writer

Some people will tell you it’s easy to become a writer. They’ll say, “Just write!”

But if you’re like me, “just writing” isn’t enough for you. You want to write something important, something that touches people at their very core, something that changes the world.

That’s not too much to ask, right?

Writing like this is hard. But of course, if it’s so important, it should be hard.

Let’s do it together.

Download the full eBook, 10 Steps to Becoming a Writer.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • George McNeese

    It was strange getting published as the first step to being a writer, but it makes a lot of sense. We have to put ourselves out there; be willing to be vulnerable and show what we can do. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to submit more stories to journals and blogs. There’s a blog I follow that posts short story and flash fiction contests. As such, there are opportunities to get published and, at the same time, refine my craft.

    Thank you for sharing these steps. It certainly takes discipline and dedication to be a writer. But the reward is worthwhile, even if it isn’t instantaneous.

    • Indeed, George! It is absolutely worthwhile.

      And regarding publishing, I think we need to start looking at publishing differently. We need to stop looking for approval from some corporation in New York (not that there’s anything wrong with them or they’re approval), and start sharing our work through whatever means we have. It really is the best and fastest way to improve.

  • Being a “writer” is easy. It’s fun to get inspiration and drift away into meandering stories. It’s so easy to put words together when we know that no one else will ever read them. Sure there are times when writing is for my eyes only, but what you have said is so true and encouraging: writing is meant to be shared. Being a writer that shares her work is definitely something I’m not as comfortable with, but it’s an area that I want to keep improving. Oh! And thank you for the new e-book! I’m looking forward to reading it!

    • For some reason, I don’t run into not wanting to share, unless I truly think something I’ve written is terrible. I love to write, edit, and share. It seems that most writers dislike some part of that process, but I enjoy all three of them. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to stand next to something that you’ve created with two hands, and say, “I made that!”

      It is usually more than the next guy can say. More over, it is probably inspiring to the next guy. Why not share it?

      You should be proud of yourself. Look how much time you spent actually doing something, as opposed to how many people came home from work and plopped down in front of the tube?

      • James I can relate so much to your statement about standing next to something you’ve created with your own two hands. For me writing is like art work, you start with a blank canvas – your blank piece of paper- (or a mound of clay for a sculptor) and create then when you edit you chip away words you don’t need as a sculptor chips away and smooths out sections of their finished piece. It can be so rewarding- especially when the finish product is what we were aiming to create.

      • That is so cool, James. Thank you for sharing that!

  • Oh, I figured it was going to be:
    1. Write.
    2. Write some more.
    3. Keep writing.

    I could also go for:
    1. Write
    2. Revise
    3. Share

    • I wanted to keep you on your toes, James. Anyway, I think that post has already been written a few times. 😉

  • cried (a very macho, manly cry, of course).

    If there were tears it can’t be very macho. You might should use a better verb. 😛 Cry baby! 😀

    I just need to FINISH my first novel, it’s at 150k and still not done. It is quickly becoming the never-ending story. Where the heck are the bounds of Fantasia!

    I started a NaNoWriMo book and I’ve almost finished it. My second novel looks like it will be my first.


    • Haha. Real men cry, James.

      150K is a lot of words James! You should break it up and make it into a series.

      Congrats on winning NaNo!

  • Joe thank you for this post, and the e-book I was at that place last night as I was finishing a story ( with a deadline). For this assignment for class we had to write a 1,000 word story and I could not first finish the story and second figure out how to write this piece so it not only mattered to me but also would matter and touch someone else as well.

    Sitting at my computer I had moments of saying” I quit, forget this, I don’t want to write anymore”. But another part of me wouldn’t give up- writing for me is like breathing, if I don’t do it I don’t exist, so I kept writing and eventually I did finish with 10 more words than allowed, but that can be fixed during editing. My final project became a cross between it’s a wonderful life and scrooge. My secret if it is a secret is to see and keep the end sentence in mind – And I did.

    Now on to the next project.

    • Congratulations on finishing your story, Debra! If you’ve written seriously at all, you’ve been in that “I quit, forget this” place before. Good job powering through (although for me, wimpering through would be a better way to put it.) And great tip to keep the last sentence in mind!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Hey Joe….

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt insights with us!

    Your post did make me smile because – in my opinion – the best article that I have ever written was titled: “Just Write”, and I wrote it while waiting for my husband to finish his racquetball session! My argument was simple: you can either wait forever for inspiration – and the ‘right’ setting – to write or JUST WRITE!

    I get what you mean though. I do believe that writing SOMETHING is a prerequisite to creating meaningful work. If you never write, you will never evolve and can never offer any value. But even if your writing sucks (initially), just putting out your words consistently will make a difference in the future. I have read some random ramblings that are far more empowering than structured posts written by the elite writers. So trust your passion and PUBLISH 😀

    Thank you so much for making me think 😉

    • I absolutely agree with, Krithika. Too many people believe the myth that you have to wait for inspiration to write. I hope you didn’t read this post as me disagreeing with you!

      Becoming a writer, to me, is an identity shift. We may be “writing,” whatever that looks like, but we still don’t feel like a writer. This post is about getting to a place where you not only feel like a writer, you KNOW you are one at your core. I think publishing in small ways is an important step.

  • This is SO COOL, Joe. Congratulations. The book is beautiful…you give great advice, and I look forward to seeing this new community unfolds.

  • Wanda Kiernan

    I’ve enjoyed writing since I was 7. Now I’m half a century old, and I’m still writing, but more seriously, and improving my craft by leaps and bounds.

    I think I came to The Write Practice in 2011. I don’t contribute very often, but I’ve read every post. This blog is a big part of the above mentioned “improving my craft in leaps and bounds”.

    In 2011 I also started keeping a “goals” journal that stared with “write every day”. When I look back at my entries I see “I want to quit”, “why am I putting myself through
    this”, “I’m not good at this”, etc., sprinkled in almost every other entry. And I almost did quit. But for some reason I didn’t (or maybe couldn’t).

    Fast forward to 2014, and my goal was to submit one work/quarter to a contest or writing website. I know, not much, but I’m a slow writer. Well guess what, one of my stories was published on the Every Day Fiction website (one was rejected), and two weeks ago I submitted another story to a contest. In all, I submitted 5 stories this year. (1 over the goal!). And I write deliberately every day. My journal entries are
    so much more ebullient than they were 3 years ago. I’m so glad I didn’t quit. Thank you Joe, and the Write Practice community for helping me improve my craft and becoming a writer!

    • I love this so much, Wanda. It’s amazing how much practice can change your life. It’s such a gift to see how far you, one of our earliest readers, have come. Thank you for sharing this with me, Wanda. 🙂

  • Miriam N

    LOVE THIS JOE! I so needed this today. You have spoken to me in a way that has rekindled my fire and desire to write. Writing is a struggle for me but I know I will not quit till I’ve become, and keep becoming, a writer. Thanks so much for this post!

    • Hint: You are a writer, Miriam! But someday, I think you could definitely be a professional writer, if that’s what you want. You’re on your way. Thanks for your comment.

  • Harvey

    Thanks for this. The post was a nice pick-me-up as I’m trying to gather the courage to write my first short story (via your short story eBook).

    I’m nervous as heck and I can’t seem to get over “planning” to write: bullet points, charts, lists, brainstorming session and I feel a lot more at ease with these than writing the first sentence. How can I just let go and let the pen flow?

    • Good luck with your short story, Harvey. I think planning is great but it can become a avoidance mechanism, a way to replace the fear of uncertainty (which is present in all writing) with busywork. Here’s what I think you should do: pick one part of your plan (your favorite bullet point, index card, chart, etc), and then trash the rest. Seriously. Throw it away or delete it from your hard drive. Then start writing, and if you need to, you can use your one piece of plan for help. But you’ll be free to be imperfect and uncertain, and most of all, free to have fun!

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  • I have a “mini” blog and have written letters to editors on a few subjects over a 30-year period, but I want to do memoir writing (lots of stories to tell), but lack confidence. I recently finished my first piece (2,000 words) and am submitting it for possible publication in a literary magazine. I hope it’s the beginning of a chapter, then a book.

  • nancy

    What a timely post. I wanted to give up this morning. It’s my editor’s birthday, and someone asked her clients to contribute pithy phrases from her editing so they could be organized into a poem. I found some funny ones from the first draft–but they were all negative. “This book has the potential to whisk readers away to another time in another place. But it doesn’t.” Or, “He’s an old warrior, not an old fart.” Or, the worst, “Her son is dying. Why would she give a shit about your protagonist?” And I said to myself, Yeah, really. Why would anyone? So I’ll put it down, like you said, and see if my interest resurges tomorrow.

    • Honestly, it sounds like you need a new editor Nancy! I’m all for giving tough feedback but only if it’s slotted between encouragement. Maybe your editor is doing that but it doesn’t sound like it. Don’t give up!

      • nancy

        So you are right again. Today I’ll pick up my pen and set a new goal: to make sure someone gives a shit about my protagonist!

  • André Valle

    I just want to become a writer because I need to put all the imagination out of my mind. Write to expurge sadness, feelings, dreams and finally feel better with myself.

    I am from Brazil and being a writer here is difficult. I have read all the articles and i purchased your book to learn how can I be a writer.
    I just want to write in english, because I know I will have more chance.
    Next week I will post my first short story here. I have no problem to be criticize. All I want to do is becoming a writer.

    Thanks Joe for your support.

    Best regards,

    André Valle

    • WritingBoy


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  • AnnM

    I put a number of these blog posts away for a rainy day. (Saved them ‘unread’, in an email folder)
    I read this one today and it resonated big time with my writing at present. Through reading and doing 15 minute writing practice on here and replying to yet another blog, I have begun to put my writing out there for others to read, and my writing self us grown at the same time.

    I agree wholeheartedly that deadlines are good and a needed part of my writing. I began with Nanowrimo two years ago. I didn’t make my goal of 50,000 words but it got me started. Last year I made it and continued to write.

    When the short story contest email came in I decided to join in and once there I found the critique, camaraderie and all round general support was where I wanted to be. Every Friday post is great, posted my first last week, and I am collecting posts for a writing blog of my own. I plan to start publishing them when I have a few to spare, though likely not the best idea, it is in my comfort zone at present.

    I’m currently writing a travel blog which I have lots of friends eagerly awaiting each day (or so they tell me), so writing each day is becoming easier to do; I have lots of incentive.

    I even have an idea for Nanowrimo this year which will provide yet another deadline.

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  • Monika

    To being a person m very great full to u that u share your thought with us but by dyeing hart I really will became a writer I wish u always encourage those people who loved writ….

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  • Eriana Castro

    Hi Joe! I don’t know if you’re going to read this because it has been two years since the last comment, but anyway, I just want to tell you “Thank you for this article”, it made me feel a little of confidence about starting my life as a writer. It’s not I haven’t felt secure about it, it’s just that while I was reading your article I was thinking “He’s right, I feel the same way, if he could make it I will too.”

    I have to admit it, I usually (if not always) get into panic in front of my computer when it’s the moment to clic on the “publish” button. Actually, I thought the last step of the process “becoming a writer” was *publishing*, but I think you’re right, no matter what you’re writting, or if you think it would be better… DON’T WAIT, JUST PUBLISH IT, if it would be better, it will get better while you’re in the path of becoming a writer.