How to Become a Writer? 6 Steps & 4 Tips for Beginners
Today, everyone is a writer. We can write whatever we want as long as it’s not illegal.
Do you think you are a writer?
I bet that you’ve written a status telling fantastic experience on your summer vacation to your friends on Facebook or Instagram, or even published a whole long review about a book or a product you bought online.
So, probably, you can call yourself a writer.
Think about it, but on a larger scale. You write something and get paid. That’s what to start a career as a writer.
Curious about it? What does exactly a writer do, and how to become a writer and make money on your writing even from scratch? Today’s article will uncover all these questions for you.
Let’s get started!
- What does a writer do?
- Career roles for writers
- How to start becoming a writer with a degree?
- How to start becoming a writer without a degree?
- Things you should give up to become a successful writer
What does a writer do?
A short description of a writer’s job is to create original content in the form of writing texts. Using the common language gearing toward their specific audience, writers conceptualize the ideas, topics, and concepts related to what they’re going to write. They do extensive research and collect useful information, proof, and other essential resources to provide readers with authentic and quality content.
You may have heard about famous writers such as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, or William Shakespeare. They composed classic books and plays.
Actually, writers produce different kinds of written content such as novels, newspapers, articles, blogs, books, poems, research papers, plays, screen manuscripts, short stories, songs, advertisements, essay writer, and more. Due to the variety of genres, the writers’ works can be published and used across ranges of media.
Career roles for writers
To become a professional writer and make money, the easiest way is to pursue a degree in a specific writing concentration. Below are typical career concentrations of a writer with the median salary reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are seriously considering living a writer’s life, this section should be noted carefully on your handbook.
Writer career concentrations: science writer, technical writer, grant writer, screenwriter, and copywriter.
Science writers cover the field of science, but not science fiction you read. They write about the advances and discoveries, such as astrophysics, biotechnology, climate change, and genetics, that require a profound and concrete understanding of complex scientific information, theories, and practices.
Science writers usually research, write and edit scientific news, papers, for business and professional publications, or scientific and technical journals. Discovery is a digital channel and newspaper that publishes a wide variety of scientific and natural news.
If you are a bookaholic, you may know Carl Sagan - one of the best science writers of all time and also an influential astronomer. He published over 600 scientific papers and wrote over 20 different books. His famous book “Cosmos” is a must-read for anyone who wants to discover the magnificent and complex development of science and civilization in a logical and comprehensive way.
Like Carl Sagan, science writers’ role is to turn science information into something easier for readers to understand and update the latest scientific advances.
The median salary of a science writer is about $64,380.
As a technical writer, you can work in various fields, such as engineering and manufacturing. Technical writers communicate complex information. They translate and interpret complex technical texts into simple, and easy-to-understand documents for average readers and laypersons, such as user guides, how-to instructions, and materials. They help readers read and get the messages easily without being stuck in specific technical jargon.
Technical writers will work with other departments and teams to develop content plans suitable for specific audiences. Technical writers also need to understand what they are translating to convey the right message of the original text and help others understand correctly.
The most common examples of technical writing are software installation guides, user manuals, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), company documents, annual reports, Service Level Agreements (SLA), Request for Proposal (RFP), legal disclaimers, etc.
The median salary of a technical writer is about $70,240.
Grant writers research and write proposals that help nonprofit and public organizations call for grant fundings from governments, charities, private foundations, or business groups. Grant writers need to research and identify the grants that match the organization’s objectives so that the proposals have the capacity to get accepted.
To be eligible for funding, a grant proposal must align with the grant’s specifications and comply with the standard structure of a proposal. A common grant proposal consists of a cover letter, project narrative, and supporting information that may include things like letters of endorsement from the members of the community.
More importantly, the grant writers need to explain why the cause is important, and the fund is noteworthy. The proposal must be persuasive, genuine, and professional.
Besides writing, editing, and sending the proposals, grant writers can also address funders’ questions about the proposals, seek and develop relationships with potential funders for other projects.
Here is a sample of a private RFP.
The median salary of a grant writer is about $58,920.
Screenwriters write screenplays for TV shows, movies, and films. They are typically for self-employed freelance writers. These types of screenplays can be entirely original or based on existing content. Screenwriters need to have the ability to construct a narrative and connect a series of events to form a larger story with plots and characters. The creativity and experience are of the essence for any screenwriter.
In TV shows or films, screenwriters play a vital role in helping producers, directors, and actors develop the screenplay and successfully demonstrate the story.
Here’s an example of a paragraph in the screenplay “The Disaster Artist,” written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissel.
See the full screenplay here.
The median salary of a screenwriter is about $58,400.
Copywriting is a buzzword now and copywriter is one of the hot careers in the employment field of various industries. Copywriters create a compelling and purposeful copy or piece of advertisement to promote and sell products or educate and engage customers. These pieces of content come with a variety of forms, such as blog posts, product descriptions, emails, newsletters, banner advertising, white papers, social media content, etc.
Copywriters typically work with marketing departments, designers, product managers, and other creative departments to brainstorm ideas and develop communication and marketing strategies. Copywriters must ensure that their copies embrace the brand’s tone and voice and communicate the consistent message across the channels.
Copywriters are also typical for freelance writers.
An example of a killer copywriting is RXBAR’s packaging. The usual ingredients of supplements are hard to read, so RXBAR makes it simple and readable for customers.
The median salary of a copywriter is about $57,640.
Now that you already know which types of a writer you can become, let’s get down to the two paths to realize your career goal as a professional writer.
How to start becoming a writer with a degree?
Determine your professional path
To become a writer, first and foremost, you need to identify what you want to write or which type of writing you want to specialize in. Based on the career concentrations of a writer, you can decide what industry you want to enter, such as copywriter, blogger, editor, creative writer, content writer, technical writer, science writer, and more.
Your specialization should have originated from your interest in writing and focused on a specific field that you have the most passion for.
Get a writing education
Obtaining a writing education is important regardless of formal training or self-studied acquirements. These two ways of writing education are processed differently but both can help you develop and accumulate skills and knowledge for writing.
First, you can learn about writing by pursuing a degree in creative writing, screenplay, Journalism, or communication. In another way, if you already know how to write and are confident to publish your work in newspapers or other channels, you can learn a lot of knowledge and techniques from the technicality and familiarity upon the improvement of your published posts.
You can also register for creative writing courses from big universities specializing in the industries you want to enter to gain an authority certificate.
Find a job
The fastest way to improve your writing is to practice writing and consistently explore the field you are interested in at a deeper level. Now after gaining sufficient knowledge and experience, you can start your career as a writer by finding a job opportunity in the industry of your interest.
Working as a freelancer is alright, but if you can get a position, such as an internship in a company, the chance to get on-job training will be helpful for a newbie like you.
Build your working portfolio
Your degree and experience are important but the recruiters or your clients will look at what you’ve done before to evaluate your ability and determine whether you’re qualified for a job. So you had better prepare a professional portfolio to showcase yourself as a writer and your outstanding and excellent projects to the world.
A portfolio tells others what you’ve written, your expertise, styles, and creativity. If you’ve worked in different industries, pick ones related to the job you apply to win the competition.
Take a look at a professional and eye-catching portfolio from Kevin Allardice.
Earn a MA/MFA
If you want to advance your career by leveling up your skills and knowledge, you can pursue the Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) to have a better understanding of the literature and writing techniques. This is also a bridge to your further professional education, such as the Ph.D. level.
How to start becoming a writer without a degree?
Read, read and read
If you don’t have any writing degree, you can still become a writer by self-learning and experiencing. So how knowledge comes from?
The answer is, “Read.”
If you want to write, read first.
If you don’t know how to write a product description, google it. There will be a wide variety of instruction articles; remember to choose the top 3 in the search result to read first.
You can also find gurus in the industries of your interest to learn from their writing. Experts will share their knowledge and experience accumulated through their entire careers with others. These are valuable sources of knowledge and techniques that you can leverage to improve your writing qualifications.
Besides, books are also an extensive source that you should dive in. I can mention some books that inspire and help turn many amateur writers into professionals, and successful writers, such as Everybody Write by Ann Handley, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, or Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
Mastering the language you gonna write
Before you want to write an excellent and compelling story, you need to write it right.
No matter what language you are using, it’s important to write everything in that language in an accurate and appropriate way. That means you need to understand the language from the smallest rules of using a dot, comma, or hyphen to grammar rules and vocabularies in the right context.
Write on a daily basis
Practice makes perfect seems to be an old idiom but it works for your writing journey. After reading or taking hundreds of books and classes, the only way to improve your writing and master any content is to put it down in writing as often as possible.
Rewrite and seek for advice
Making the multiple versions of your writing is another useful way to upgrade your writing. You can rewrite your piece of writing sentence by sentence, flesh out new ideas, or cut down the abundance to renew your writing.
After rewriting, read your work carefully, check the mistakes, and find what dissatisfy you. At this stage, you can find another person for proofreading. Find someone who can give you advice to improve your writing.
Start a blog
If you have had enough copies in docs or papers, try to create a blog and update it regularly with your writing. There are many platforms and tools that enable you to create from a simple to a professional blog. You can write every topic you want to practice your writing, or choose a specialization to develop your blog into a professional one that can help you make money. Being an online blogger working as a freelancer is not a bad idea.
Connect other writers
To become a writer, it obviously depends on yourself.
You can do everything on your own until you become a professional writer.
But why have to choose alone when you can have a helpful and supportive community behind you?
No matter what industry you want to enter, you can find a community with people like you, seniors, and experts who can help you reach your goals more quickly.
Things you should give up to become a successful writer
Your fear of marketing
Don’t you write articles, screenplays, or short stories and just store them in document files on your laptop?
If yes, you must not be ready to be a successful writer.
If you don’t expose your work, who will know them?
That’s why having a blog or a platform to publish pieces of writing is imperative for any writer. Write, publish, and expose your writing to the readers. You can share your work on social media to reach more people as it’s the most powerful way to spread words nowadays.
Another way is to send your copies to journalism or channels to get a chance to be featured.
Your laziness and procrastination will kill your writing career.
You need to throw your laziness into the trash and immerse yourself in writing.
Research, read, write, edit, and repeat to soon become a good writer.
Building a writing career takes time.
It takes years to get a degree in writing or build a successful blog and gaining experience is another long story.
Your success in this industry is not going to happen overnight. You need to devote your time to it, do what you need to do, like researching, reading, and practicing as often as possible. You should also look for opportunities to be showered with the world’s leading authors’ experiences and discoveries to broaden your mind in writing.
Your need for approval
If you have a passion for writing and want to start a writing career, go for it. You don’t need anyone’s permission to write your first draft and publish your own blog posts. When you know what you are writing, who your readers are, what value you can give them, and how profits come in, you know the right path to light up your career.
Becoming a writer is a wonderful profession, and it’s on your hand.
Today, you can find everything you need to know to become a good writer. The key is that after reading those tips and techniques, you keep practicing and improving your writing.
Remember these following imperative steps to train yourself into a writer who not only writes to entertain but also to create valuable things and make money:
- Determine your career path
- Get yourself a writing education
- Learn from a writing job
- Gather your work and build a portfolio
- Read more
- The language: Nail it down
- Write more
- Rewrite and seek advice
- Build and maintain a blog
- Connect and learn from other writers
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