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The 7 Stages You Pass To Become a Writer

This guest post is by Ani Chibukhchyan. Ani is the Amazon bestselling author of Highfall. You can read her blog, Life Probabilities, and follow her on Twitter (@Ani_LifeProb). Ani is from Armenia.

Victory Waits on Your FingerA few days ago I was at TEDx Yerevan, which as always was a very uplifting experience. I’ve been there before, but this time was different because a my life had gone through an important change over the past year.

During coffee breaks and lunch, the most common question asked was, “So what do you do?” At the conference in 2012, when people asked me what I did, my answer was more complicated. I had quit my job and at that point just started writing Highfall—my first novel. Maybe that is why I answered with insecure phrases, such as “I am trying to write,” “I write a bit,” and “I want to be a writer.”

Sound familiar?

This year things were different. At the TEDx conference, this time I had no problem saying, “I am a writer” believing in every single word.

But it has been a long journey until I reached that point. To become a writer, you have to pass through several stages, and it seems that these stages are common across all writers. Here are the seven stages to become a writer.

Stage 1. Keeping your writing to yourself

In the beginning, you write only for yourself. You feel the need to write and do it just because you enjoy the process. You might feel nervous or ashamed to show what you’ve written to others, not because what you wrote was personal, but because you were sure that no one cares about your writing.

Stage 2. Wanting to share your writing

At some point, my notebooks filled with poems and the Word files with my short stories feel lonely. I was not enough for them anymore. They needed bigger audience. They wanted to new pairs of eyes and new excited faces.

You may begin to feel the need to share your writing, as if there isn’t enough space for them anymore.

Stage 3. Hiding behind a pen name

My writings were ready to come out—but I was not. I felt shy and insecure. I wasn’t ready to face the criticism which would definitely follow. So I found a compromise, which would keep my writings happy and my ego safe. I opened a blog and hid the author behind a pen name. Now I could get objective feedback from people, who did not know me.

You may or may not decide to hide behind a pen name, but you will likely feel nervous and vulnerable sharing your work with the larger world.

Stage 4. Waiting for permission

Until this stage your writing was nothing more than a hobby. Some people like playing golf, others love watching football—you wrote. For me, I perceived my writing as a hobby, nothing more.

But at some point, when you are searching for your passion and thought about what you would do if money did not matter, writing comes to mind first.

For me, the problem was that I thought that I needed permission to write. I needed someone (preferably a publisher or a famous writer) telling me that what I wrote was not a crap. I waited for someone to encourage me and give their permission.

Stage 5. Coming out

It took a while, but I finally I realized that I did not need permission, acceptance or admiration from anyone. Well, at least from anyone other than myself.

This was one of the most important stages. This was when I did not want to hide behind a fake name anymore. This was when I tossed the nickname away and told who I really was.

It’s scary and uncomfortable at first. But then everything leading to eventual success is scary and uncomfortable, isn’t it?

Stage 6. Insecure introductions

You probably think your writing isn’t good enough. You read what you’ve written and feel you could have done much better. That itself makes you think that you are not a writer. You are on your way, you become better with the time, but you can’t call yourself a writer.

That is when you start using insecure phrases like “aspiring writer,” “pre-published writer,” “undiscovered writer,” “almost a writer,” etc.

Stage 7. I am a writer

What makes someone a writer? Writers write.

A writer is a person who has written something, an article, blog post, story, novel, etc. The definition does not say that what you have written has to be published, acknowledged, recognized and bought. It simply has to be written.

And here comes the last stage. That is when you finally realize that you are a writer and feel comfortable stating that fact every time people ask what you do.

I don’t know if there are any shortcuts to get to the last stage.

This was my personal path to becoming a writer. What is yours?

PRACTICE

The best way to overcome writer’s block is to change your writing venue. Set a writing goal, take your laptop or notebook and go out. Go to a park or a coffee shop, sit and live the moment. Embrace this moment of happiness. Breath…

Then switch on your computer, put on your earphones and start typing. No need for WiFi—don’t even think about the Intenet, social networks and other distraction. That’s how I wrote this blog post in a beautiful place called Lover’s Park.

Write for fifteen minutes (or more). When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback on a few practices by other writers.

About Guest Blogger

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

  • Somewhere around Step 2 or 3… I would add a most important step: Take a writing class! Join other writers as they aspire to do what you’re doing. Learn. Study great writing. Model great writers. Take on a writing mentor, instructor, professor. And read read read all the great writers. Otherwise we might not know how good or bad our own writing really is. It’s good to know where we stand in the history of writing.

    • Christine

      That’s also a good idea. You get that sense of community and support. You hear others’ struggles and realize you’re not so odd. Hearing critiques from a number of people about your writing can give you a better balance, which is pretty shaky when you only dare to show a few people your work and depend totally on their opinion. Like Robert Louis Stevenson’s father, your mother might say you’re wasting your time writing because she wants to see you become a lawyer, a realtor or CEO.

  • Garrett Pletcher

    I don’t feel like these are steps you HAVE to go through to become a writer…more like common steps that writers go through, but for anyone reading this thinking they have to go through all of this to become a writer, you don’t. In fact, if you write and it is your passion, I think you qualify as a writer.

    • I completely agree with you. Stage 3, for example, is an unnecessary step to becoming a writer, but I can also see where many writers would need this to help encourage their talents.

      • Garrett Pletcher

        I definitely think these are common experiences for writers. the tone of the article made me feel like if I didn’t go through all of these, I wasn’t a writer lol

    • Perhaps you don’t have to go through these precise ones, but I think everyone goes through similar stages. It’s not Joe Bunting saying I’m not a writer at stage 1, it’s me. He’s just pointing it out.

      • Garrett Pletcher

        I agree. Everyone does. “Here are the seven stages to becoming a writer” just sounded a little matter of fact. Like you HAVE to go through all of these or you are not a writer lol

        • Right. It’s descriptive not prescriptive, but I can see how it’s confusing. Thanks for clarifying Garrett. 🙂

    • Ani

      No one says that you HAVE to… those are the stages many went to. As all individuals are different the stages which apply to themmay be different too…

  • Vicki Boyd

    I wrote poetry and short stories in high school. I read copiously. Then life gobbled me up, and though I continued to read, I quit writing.

    Now, at age sixty, I’m writing again. Knowing that I have a steep learning curve, and feeling the urgent need to get all the stories living in my head on paper, I have turned to blogs about writing as a means to educate myself.

    I want to thank all the other writers who take thier time to teach me. Thank you to everyone who takes thier time to critique my practices.

    I am already introducing myself as a writer. I’m fine with having my work read and critiqued. That may be self confidence that simply comes with age.

    • Christine

      You sound just like me! I quite writing for about fifteen years because my hubby told me I was too “preachy” in my writing. I said I’d never write again. Now here I am at sixty trying to get all those stories down on paper while I still can. And trying to avoid being too preachy. 🙂

      “Life is odd with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns
      And many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out…” Anon

      • Ani

        There are always people on our way who may not encourage us and those people’s opinion may make us doubt… but if wtriting is your calling it will come and remind about itself anyway…

      • Adelaide Shaw

        Hi Christine,
        Well, I didn’t start writing fiction until I was 50. Something about hitting the half-century mark made me do something totally different. I didn’t call myself a writer until I retired from my job. Although I was writing while I was working, I didn’t consider myself a writer. I am a writer, an unpaid one, but a writer.
        You are too.
        Adelaide

    • Ani

      Vicky, it seems like you are on teh right path. Keep ryzing 🙂

    • Noniej

      This sounds like my story/life – I’m 52 now and after many years of not writing I turned to it again a couple of years ago. I’ve had a couple of short stories published in anthologies but I’m learning, learning all the time. From blogs like this, critique sites and I’ve done a few online courses as well. My goal for next year is to have the novel I’m working on ready to submit by November. That gives me time to write short stories as well. We may have another 20/30/40 years left in us – we ought to spend them doing what we love 🙂

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Hi Vicky,
      I didn’t see your post before and just replied to another one about starting writing fiction when I turned 50. Age is no barrier. I think I’ll keep writing until I breathe my last breath,
      Adelaide

  • Have you been spying on me during the last two years? 🙂 You perfectly described my journey. I think I’m transitioning from stage 5 to stage 6 right now. I’m having trouble saying “I am a writer” because I have another job, too. I’m not sure how to answer. I love my job and the company and don’t want to ignore that part of “what I do.” Ideas?

    • Ani

      Well maybe say that you are a writer AND whatever you do at the compabby? One does not exclude the other, right?

  • Jenna Kay Pridgen

    Great insight, Joe! Spot on!

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  • Joy Collado

    I think I’m on stage 4. I feel like I have the need to have someone tell me that I can write. This isn’t doing any good to my writing and I know I have to get pass this stage as soon as possible. 🙂

    • Ani

      Joy – you CAN write! – so you can pass to the next stage 🙂

      • Joy Collado

        lol, Thanks! 🙂

    • Candace Zahnzinger

      You can do it, just keep writing, even if it is only a handful of words each day, eventually those become a sentence, then a paragraph, a chapter, and then who knows maybe even, a book.

      • Joy Collado

        Thanks Candace! Yes, maybe even a book. fingers crossed! 🙂

  • Deborah Wise

    I know i am A WRITER, because I cannot not write! Whenever i sit alone, anywhere, it happens – my brain goes into overdrive and my fingers itch, and I begin:

    A woman well into her 60’s with once-grey hair, stiffly coloured a flaming red, sat at an outdoor café table in her well-worn skin. She was unashamedly relishing a chocolate bar, and licked her fingers appreciatively when it was finished, oblivious of the other patrons around her.

    Two similarly middle-aged ladies, obviously bosom-buddies, sat at an indoor table deep into a delicious gossip-session. They were dressed alike in capri pants, thongs and short-sleeved tops, and both had short, bottle-coloured hair with grey roots visible. Both sat wearily slumped over their table with elbows planted and feet well spaced to support their weighty bodies. They might have been
    identical until one saw the very different features of each weathered face,
    similar only in the tired and age-drawn downward pull of time and gravity.

    A group of young mothers sat grouped around an outdoor table, each accompanied by a child-bearing pram at her side. The three sat in almost identical poses and state of dress to the two old ladies, but contrasting markedly by their obviously youthful faces and their pony-tailed hair. The three were, apart from their facial features, clones of one another, differing only in their colouring and the
    brand-names of their babies’ prams.

  • Ani I think you are on to something. See how many of us idetify with those steps. I went through them too. I’m just grateful I did it on the “fast forward” and within 6 months I had my first work published. Steps 1 to 6 are so gruelling…

    • Ani

      We are all in it together Michal 🙂

  • Lily

    How come I feel like I’m at every stage?

  • I think I jumped from stage 2 to stage 6, and now I’m fighting. I played with a pen name, but always made the connection between that and my real name. Now, every time I feel ready for stage 7, and shy back to 6… sigh.

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  • Scott Biddulph

    Great post. I had fun going down the list and looking in the mirror.

  • I flipped 1 and 2 ages ago, mainly because I wanted to know I could write without other people’s comments, and then I hopped straight to Stage 7 and never looked back.

  • Robyn LaRue

    I’m still in that stage where I crave validation far more than I should, but I have no problem calling myself a writer and feel more confident about introducing myself as a writer who becomes an author in 2014. Thanks for the stage…wonderful reminder that they are stages, and we (hopefully) pass through them. 🙂

  • Candace Zahnzinger

    I’m still stuck at stage 6, but I am glad to know there is just taking the final leap and I’ll be at the ever elusive final stage… Is there a 12 step program to help get there?

    Now how to build up the needed confidence to take that step.

  • When you write something it’s always better to have as many people as possible to see it and have their opinion on the piece of writing prior to publishing. This way you will have confidence everything is alright.

  • Eliese

    This gave me goosebumps. This is exactly how I have felt. Amazing. I am a stage four.

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