How to Be a Writer: A Step-by-Step Guide

So you want to be a writer. Why? Nobody reads anymore. You’re not even reading this right now. You’re just using this as a diversion to make the time go by faster until it’s time to go home from work or school. But maybe you’ve just got something to say or a story to tell and you want the world to know about it. Well, here’s my advice:

If you have to go to someone to learn how to be a writer, you’ve already lost. It’s like taking comedy classes. You can’t learn how to be funny. That takes natural talent, which is why I’m so great at it. You have to be a natural writer, which means you’re probably weird, lack general social skills, and have a bunch of really questionable and imaginative thoughts floating around your noggin. But if you want to be stubborn and believe you’ve got what it takes, the first thing you need to do is…

Step 1: Find Your Voice

This is the hardest part about being a writer. Your voice can either be the natural way you speak, or it can be one of the 30 voices constantly mumbling in your head. Whatever it is, focus on it, refine it, and transform it into words.

One of the best compliments I receive on my writing is that the reader feels like they can hear me dictating the words on the page to them. Of course, this only works when friends or family read my work, but it does tell me that I’ve found my voice. Luckily for me, I speak and write in a grammatically precise manner, so I don’t have to do much editing. But if your grammar is awful, you’ll have to figure out how to make it work.

Step 2: Outline

No moron just sits down and starts writing what comes to their head. That’s a reckless and dumb thing to do. You need to figure out where you’re going first, then worry about the details later. Know what major stops you’re going to make along the way, then figure out which roads are going to take you there.

“We’re definitely taking this road and hoping to God we get to the Grand Canyon.”

Outlining your masterpiece helps break things up as well. For my 100 Stories, I figured out which 100 things I was going to write about first. I didn’t just look for a thing and then write about it. That kills momentum. It also feels like it takes longer.

Step 3: Edit, edit, edit, and release

I have a 3-step editing process. (Oh snap…steps within steps? That’s crazy!) Once I’m done with a rough draft, I’ll do a read-through and add in some dick jokes. This is the “Punch Up” round (that’s some inside terminology for you; you’re welcome). Once that’s done, I’ll transfer everything over to Microsoft Word, format it to how I want it to look in print, and make a few more edits.

The final edit involves me sitting alone in my apartment (which isn’t anything out of the ordinary) and reading the manuscript aloud to myself so I can hear how it flows and catch things that sound weird. When that’s done, I send it off to the publisher. This is important because you have to be able to come to some level of contentment with your work and let it go, otherwise you’ll tinker with it forever and it’ll never be completed.

This isn’t lonely at all.

Step 4: Be insufferable

When you’re done, you can show off your work to people who feign interest. Despite it having the same significance as it did in the 1800s and before, writing a book is an accomplishment because it means you spent a good chunk of time crafting a piece of art. People will have a general disdain for you because they’ll think that you think you’re better than them. And when it comes to compartmentalizing your thoughts into a linearly organized item, you are better than them, and don’t you forget it.

%d bloggers like this: