This is one of the most common questions I receive:
I love to write, and I think I’m pretty good at it. How did you start? How can I quit my day job and write full-time too?
This is a great question—and there are so many potential answers to it for how to be a professional writer!
Here are two of the key questions you’ll want to ask yourself if you are interested in starting a career as a writer:
1) Am I any good?
You don’t have to be the best writer in the world—but you do need to have some degree of skill. One of the best things a peer ever said to me in high school was that my writing was just “fine.”
I was crushed, because I loved writing and I’d always been told by people that I was a great writer!
But when I was told this, it opened my eyes to help me realize that I wasn’t a great writer. So I worked on my skill. I read, I wrote, I studied, I experimented. And—I found my voice.
There are many people who are much more talented writers than I am—some who don’t make a living at it, or who rarely even write that often.
But what makes me able to make a living at writing is that I’ve found my voice, and I’ve found the writing style that works well for me.
Be honest with yourself. If you think you’re a great writer, you certainly might be—but you also might not be. Don’t let your ego get the best of you! Remember that you can always learn a lot from other writers, and you can always get better at writing. Find your voice, keep writing, and opportunities will come up for you.
2) What can I do to build my portfolio and my audience?
It’s not enough to just write for yourself in private. You have to put yourself out there if you want to be a professional writer!
Volunteer for a local community newspaper or a local blog. Start your own blog. Enter a short story contest.
You don’t have to be a great writer to do any of these things! Just start so that you can get your writing out there. Then, when you move onto paid writing gigs and take the step closer to making a living at it, you will be able to showcase all of the work you’ve already done—and you might have built a nice little readership of people who truly appreciate your work.
Stay tuned for next week’s article: So You Want to Be an Editor: Now What?
What are your tips for how to be a professional writer? Do you have questions about becoming a writer yourself? Share in the comments section below!