Step one in becoming a writer: Pick up your pen.
Or your keyboard. Or your smartphone. Whatever. Grab your typewriter if it makes you feel good. Just start writing.
Step two: Write some more.
You know what they say about practice, and while I don’t believe “perfect” writing exists, you’re only going to get better by writing, writing, writing.
Step three: Read good writing.
Yes, it can be overwhelming, humbling, to read a great work. I often think, “Who do I think I am? What do I have to offer compared to this?” and I know I’m not alone in that. But reading good writing can also teach you an awful lot about what good writing is, and that’s essential if you’re going to craft such work yourself. Pay attention. Notice what you like about it, and study how the writer got there. If it’s a journalistic piece, consider the questions the reporter may have asked to uncover those details. Heck, if you think the writer may be accessible, reach out to them and ask what went into the piece.
Step four: Find a good editor.
Even a very good editor needs an editor. This is something of a mantra around my office, and I’ve read too many books and article where a good editor could have elevated a piece from passable to masterful. Find someone who can offer you honest insight into your work, who isn’t afraid to give you constructive criticism that will help you fine tune a story. And pay attention to the changes they make–these will help you learn and improve for the future.
Step five: Repeat.
Today’s title is the first line of the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer.” The 11th #bloglikecrazy prompt was to write a how-to entry. I think my past interns and students could attest that this is advice I offer frequently!