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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.

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.

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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!

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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!


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