18 Easy Steps to Becoming a Writer

One thing many people ask me is: How? How do I become a writer? Well, I'm here to answer that question once and for all. Keep in mind this applies equally well to deciding you're going to write a short story or deciding you're going to write a novel. Heck, it even applies to scholarly or work-related writing. Guest column by Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy (HarperTeen; Aug. 2010), which recently hit the NYT best seller list.
Author:
Publish date:

One thing many people ask me is: How? How do I become a writer? Well, I'm here to answer that question once and for all. Keep in mind this applies equally well to deciding you're going to write a short story or deciding you're going to write a novel. Heck, it even applies to scholarly or work-related writing.

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

Guest column by Kiersten White, author
of Paranormalcy (HarperTeen; Aug. 2010), which
recently hit the NYT best seller list.
Check out her blog: Kiersten Writes.


Step One: Decide you're going to write a story.

Step Two: Decide it's going to be brilliant. Imagine the response of your [teacher , classmates, reading group, agent] and how it will completely change the way they look at you.

Step Three: Open up Microsoft Word.

Step Four: Stare at the blank white screen stretching on into infinity until your eyes begin to burn and your brain hurts from the sheer emptiness of it all.

Step Five: Check your e-mail. If writing a novel, research agents for a couple of hours.

Step Six:
Stare at the blank Word document again.

Step Seven: Realize you need music. Spend the next hour finding the perfect "mood" music for what you want to write.

Step Eight: Inspired by [insert perfect music here], click back over to Word document.

Step Nine: Change Facebook status to: [Your name here] is WRITING!!! Realize you aren't on Twitter, and that anyone who is anyone is networking/wasting time on Twitter. Sign up for an account and spend the next two hours figuring out how it works and what the crap # means.

Step Ten: Stare at blank Word document. Decide you need a title. Brainstorm for the next hour.

Step Eleven: Come up with a GENIUS title. Proudly type "The Scent of Green Papayas" at the top of the document, followed by your name. Happily consider how easily a story will come now that you have such an amazing, literary title.

Step Twelve: Take a four-hour break for snacks and naptime.

Step Thirteen: Refreshed, sit down and toy around with pen names for a while.

Step Fourteen: Realize to your horror that your genius title is actually the name of a Vietnamese foreign film you saw seven years ago.

Step Fifteen: Erase the title, pressing Backspace much harder than necessary.

Step Sixteen: Stare at the blank Word document until your eyes bleed.

Step Seventeen: Check Facebook. See that fourteen people have commented on your status, asking what you are writing. Feel both guilty and annoyed.

Step Eighteen: Slam your laptop shut and go to the movies. Tomorrow's a better day for writing, anyhow.

See? You never knew writing was so easy!

Image placeholder title

This post is an online exclusive complement
to a spotlight on Kiersten in the Sept. 2010
issue of WD. If you don't have a sub to
Writer's Digest, what are you waiting for?
Get one now!


Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.

Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Jaclyn Goldis: From Personal History to Historical Fiction

Debut author Jaclyn Goldis explains how her novel When We Were Young was inspired by her real-life grandmothers and how many times she rewrote her first chapter.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Forced Decision

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, force a character to make a decision.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 25

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a cryptid.

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

From the Practical to the Mystic: 7 Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Bestselling author Erika Robuck provides her top 7 tips for creating an engaging historical fiction novel.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 559

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a short poem.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 24

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to create a new myth.