10 Ways to Grow From "Someone Who Writes" Into a Writer

One of my authors recently told me about her big “A-ha Moment.”

After months of stressful writing, she went to a café to add passages to her book.

Hours later, she sat back, and it hit her: “This is fun.” She no longer saw herself as someone who toiled to string words together — after so many drafts, she finally began to think of herself as a writer.

Here are 10 ways to grow from “someone who writes” into a true writer:

1. Write consistently.

Build up your “writing muscles” so that writing isn’t an intermittent task that you must force yourself into each time. Strive to make writing something you do as naturally and frequently as breathing.

2. Edit yourself consistently.

People who simply write don’t see the point in pushing past a rough draft and working toward improvement.

True writers, on the other hand, examine where their writing needs growth, no matter how many second, third and fourth drafts it takes.

3. Embrace “bad days” as “opportunities.”

Someone who only writes lets writer’s block stall her thoughts and progress. Yet, someone who sees herself as a true writer views one roadblock as a chance to plunge into writing something else that loosens her writing mind.

4. Think small.

Strive to improve the individual words you choose, or sentence structure. True writers forever examine closely to see how to make their message truly effective to shine in the most powerful way possible, even at the sentence level.

5. Read. Then, read some more.

A true writer is always on a quest to discover new ways to see others’ viewpoints, to communicate and to join the conversations already set forth by countless writers before her.

Conversely, someone who simply writes can fall into the trap of plugging away at a keyboard, never stopping to think about the world that the work is meant to reflect in the first place.

6. Keep your references close.

Never underestimate the power of a dictionary or thesaurus. Truly passionate writers jump at opportunities to better understand how to command language in a deep and lasting way.

7. Take big chances.

Each project, no matter how small, is about seizing every opportunity to hone your craft and push your limits as a writer. Someone who simply writes just wants to get the draft polished and published.

Someone who is a true writer takes risks in her writing, and forever strives to grow in seemingly impossible ways.

8. Be mindful of your readers.

Someone who merely writes doesn’t truly stop to consider how her words change the way a reader looks at the world, or how her message contributes to a greater conversation.

True writers ask: How am I adding something meaningful or enlightening to my readers’ lives? Are my ideas fresh?

9. Recognize that it takes time and hard work.

Someone who writes wants instant success with her writing, and easily gets discouraged by the amount of time and effort it takes to achieve it. A true writer knows that writing is a form of exploration of the perspectives of the world around us. It takes a great deal of dedication to get it right.

10. Listen to those with the knowledge to help you.

Enlisting the help of professional editors, writing teachers and fellow writers is a powerful way to push your writing to the next level and grow into someone who can truly call herself a writer.

I’d like to hear from you. What are your own “A-ha” moments in your writing life?

17 comments on “10 Ways to Grow From “Someone Who Writes” Into a Writer

  • I’m so happy I stumbled upon this. Currently working very dilligently on my own fiction novel. This will help push me. I think it’s also worth adding “Take writing classes.” There’s so much to learn and I have learned a lot about how to express myself better through these classes.

  • “Recognize that it takes time and hard work.” THIS is totally huge. I’d been discouraged so many times until I got to the point where my writing tasks became part of who I am. Thanks for this.

  • This is so spot on. I am surrounded by so many writers who “write for writing’s sake,” but fail to think about what they are bringing to readers. Even fiction authors must think about this!

  • Hi diane,

    I’m an aspiring author writing my way toward publishing my first novel – a spy thriller set in futuristic times. I found your blog through a fellow writer friend. This article is certainly inspiring and it is important to comment on what is going on in the zeitgeist. This is why reading classic books is truly such a joy as we can almost peer into societies in a truly insightful way.

  • Hi Diane,

    I love your opinion that even fiction writers must ask themselves what they are adding to a reader’s life that is original — or at least originally stated and carried out. This is huge for me as I browse especially self-published titles on Amazon. There is a lot of “been there done that.”

    This is where I recommend reading philosophy or the daily news to get a sense of these “greater convos” you speak of. Thankyou.

  • Your message to “think small” and hyperfocus on how words fit together at the sentence level is something I really wish I had drilled into me years ago. It makes the process of crafting story so much more compelling and whole when you think about communicating with others in this small way.

  • Yes, writing muscles! I enjoy this, as it’s exactly how it feels when you get into the practice of putting words on a page.

    Wonderful blog, thank you for this. It is exactly what I need as I move into my retirement phase of life, where I hope to write many stories.

  • I had a similar “A-ha Moment” (and love that you use Oprah’s phrase) in my own writing. I was actually in the middle of a great big, dry paper in college (I was a politics major) yet turned to some free writing during a much needed break. It was huge. And, a big reason why I turned to free write in the first place was because I had just received a wonderful new Moleskein notebook and I wanted to make a dent. That actually lead to a great new world of fiction writing. Now I’m working on my first novel. It’s such a slow process, as you’ve said often on this blog, but each step is fulfilling. It’s a learning process. It’s very humbling. And I look forward to more and more “A-ha Moments”!

  • Excellent advice for writers! Both practical and motivational! I’m sure your advice answers a lot of questions for all of us!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Ernestine! So happy to see you’ve chimed in. I’m also thrilled you find the advice helpful. Happy writing to you!

      Warmly,
      Diane

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