Becoming a Writer

By Audrey Driscoll

It can feel like stepping off a cliff and realizing you can fly. Or crashing to earth with a thud.

Based on my experience, these are the steps.

  • You get the urge to write. You start writing and keep writing, and eventually you have a complete, book-length manuscript.
    Tip: Don’t go telling everyone about your writing at this point. In On Writing, Stephen King advises to write the first draft with the door closed. And, I might add, the mouth. You don’t want the magic to leak out.
  • Find other writers (critique partners or beta readers) who are willing to read your work and give you an honest opinion and helpful suggestions. Be prepared to do the same for them, and to invest some time in this process.
  • Observe how you react to feedback on your writing. Be honest with yourself about how you take criticism and unfavourable reactions. These insights will be useful as you proceed with writing and publishing.
  • Rewrite and edit. Several times.
  • Decide if you want to share your writing with the world. Ask yourself why, and figure out what success will look like for you.
  • If you intend to go the traditional publishing route, start early and be prepared to persist. There is a ton of advice out there about querying, writing a synopsis, researching agents and publishers, and dealing with rejection. Be prepared to work at this and take the necessary time. And prepare to deal with rejection.
  • If you plan, or eventually decide, to self-publish, figure out what parts of the process (editing, formatting, and cover design) you are capable of doing yourself. Your critique partners and other writers may give you valuable feedback. Use Canva or a similar tool to test your design skills by creating images that represent your novel or story. At the least, you might produce something to show your ideas to the cover designer you hire to do the job for you.
  • Decide how much money you can afford to invest in your publishing project. Do not use borrowed money with the expectation of paying it back from the proceeds of book sales. If your budget is small, apply it to things you are least capable of doing yourself. Consider skill swapping with people you know. Be prepared to take time finding the most affordable options.
    Tip: Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two!
  • The internet is your friend, as well as your greatest distraction. From writing and publishing advice, to encouragement when things get tough, to doing research, to the act of publishing, to promotion, it can all be found or done online. So if you don’t already have them, get yourself a reliable computer and a solid internet connection.

Writing seriously, and especially bringing your writing to the world, is a complex and demanding process. It is also tremendously satisfying and rewarding (although most likely not in the financial sense).

Reading this post may be one of your first steps!

Image from Pixabay


  1. kingmidget says:

    That’s a good description of the process from idea to end.

    The last couple of days I’ve been thinking of figuring out how to disable the internet on my laptop. And then, when I want to write, I’d leave my phone downstairs too, so none of the distractions would be available to me. Haven’t quite done it yet. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A computer without an internet connection is just a glorified typewriter. If you have a spare, just disable its network adapter and unplug the data cable. I’m still a fan of pen on paper for the first draft, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kingmidget says:

        I have a laptop and a Chromebook. The Chromebook isn’t much good for anything other then surfing the internet. Once the weather gets warm again, I may try the paper and pen approach. Sit out in the back yard and give it a go.

        Liked by 1 person

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