How to Find the Courage to Become a Writer

Four Parts:Knowing why you want to writeSetting up your writing zoneTransitioning to becoming a regular writerBecoming a full-time writer

Looking for the courage to actually become that writer you keep telling yourself (and others too) that you want to be? It can be hard to take that final leap into treating writing as your career or vocation. It is hard to let go of hobbies, habits and even a job, to make the time to write and turn into "a writer". Yet, if you're truly serious about becoming a writer, you'll need to make space for the time to write and immerse yourself in all things writing.

Part 1
Knowing why you want to write

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    Want to be a writer. This sounds trite, given that you're on a page about finding the courage to be a writer, but you really do have want to be a writer. Writing is hard work, often poorly paid, often lonely and sometimes it also wins you a set of disgruntled critics you never knew existed. It isn't an existence for everyone but if you truly believe that you want this more than anything else in life, this desire will be one very important part of what can make it happen for you. The following lists some traits that you'll likely need to become a full-time writer:
    • Tenacity. Hour upon hour of working on your manuscript, living with your characters, your stories, your research, your analysis, etc. can do your head in at times. You need to be very determined to keep going and slogging through even the parts you least enjoy (and there will be plenty of those).
    • Self-discipline. Writing requires a constancy from you that you might not expect. It can be easy to wander off, lose the thread, find other things to do. To get up a little later than usual, to make this into a new bad habit, then find the day's already half gone. You must be self-disciplined enough to stick to the hours you've chosen for writing, and to not see this as a time of meandering off. Moreover, this discipline has to be applied to every book you write, for as long as you choose to be a writer.
    • Willing to use initiative. You become the sole arbiter of research, finding things out, fact-checking, analyzing, etc. While friends and family may be willing to help out occasionally, you won't be able to ask for the help all of the time and you will need to learn to stand on your own and work things out for yourself. Good interviewing skills can be very handy though!
    • Creativity. Regardless of what you're writing about, you will need to have the ability to generate lots of ideas. Not all ideas will reach fruition but they are all important to the process of firming up your written work.
    • Having a good grasp of your language. Having good grammar, a large vocabulary and being comfortable working with words are all important elements of being a good writer. Having a knowledge of at least one other language can be useful too; while not essential, it can help diversify your own language and lets you understand different cultural slants.
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    Have faith in your writing abilities. A large part of finding the courage to change something you're doing in life is trusting that you can do it. If you're unsure of your skills, work on them. If you know you're already good a writing, stay open to continuous learning, because no matter how skilled and experienced you are, a good writer never stops learning. By being flexible, willing to learn and trusting of your own abilities, you will have a good foundation for launching your writing career.

Part 2
Setting up your writing zone

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    Make space for your writing. Set up an area that is just for your writing. This will help you to keep everything in one place and encourage you to sit (or stand/treadmill) at this one space on a regular basis.
    • A standing or treadmill desk is a nice option for writers. Some writers find that standing or walking at a suitable pace encourages writing and keeps you fit at the same time.
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    Decide the method by which you enjoy writing most. Although most people have gravitated toward typing on a word processing machine of one type or another, it's not the only way to write. The simple and standard book and pen or pencil remains a time-old way of writing; in fact, carrying a notebook with you everywhere is important for jotting down ideas as they occur to you.

Part 3
Transitioning to becoming a regular writer

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    Consider changing over to a writing habit gradually. If you are not able to toss in everything to "just write", the best solution is to take it slowly and find chunks of time that are devoted purely to writing. This will allow you to continue your usual daily efforts, such as work, making dinner, cleaning the house, spending time with the kids, and other things that are important. To do this, sort out what isn't essential in your day, such as watching TV, playing games, chatting all night, etc. With the spare time gained, devote this to writing.
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    Set goals for each writing installment. When developing your novel, book, non-fiction work, poetry anthology, or whatever it is that you're writing, it is useful to have goals. These goals can include what you expect to have written by when, which parts of your research must be done by what time, how many chapters are completed, and so forth.
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    Try small writing approaches first. Start a blog or a review website. Practice regular writing updates to hone your craft and learn what people like and don't much like. If you need extra income, you might even consider monetizing the blog and getting a small amount of revenue. Also consider freelance writing opportunities, with websites, magazines, newspapers, travel publications, etc. There are lots of ways to get your writing published, some of which will also come with earnings.
    • Use the feedback from those assessing your work to guide improvements in your writing.
    • Use the experience to find out what styles of writing you prefer over other styles. For example, you may think you have a passion for fiction, only to discover that you prefer non-fiction, auto-biographical analysis of daily life or social commentary. Give a few styles a try.
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    Put a deadline on this transition phase if you are aiming to take up writing full-time. It's a good time to learn whether writing is for you, to see if you can produce writing readers enjoy, even to see if you can make money from the writing. If you find the gradual writing, or "on-the-side" writing is fulfilling enough for you, then that's great. If not, ensure that it has an end date.

Part 4
Becoming a full-time writer

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    Decide what "full-time" means for you. This might be a 5-hour day, an 8-hour day, a 12-hour day or a weekly or monthly total of hours. Full-time is whatever it takes to get the amount written that you think is appropriate within a chosen time span; it is not necessarily the same as what full-time is for a job––it may be much less or it may be more. It could be all that you do as work, or you you might switch into part-time work, with full-time writing. Or, you might ask work for a day or two a week off to write, working the remaining time as usual. What does "full-time" mean to you?
    • Most importantly, the time you take off must be used meaningfully. It is no good setting aside time and then not writing.
    • If you cling to a job, writing may sometimes only remain your "on the side" habit. This may work initially as a way to wean yourself off, pay off the mortgage, etc., but eventually you may feel constrained. Some people can juggle both a job and a writing career but many find they can't, and you may reach a point of having to decide between the job and your writing.
    • If you have decided being a writer is a good way of getting away from a job you hate, be aware that this is not a reason to write. Writing must be something you feel a need to do that is so deep inside, so innate and such a part of you, that you can't imagine not doing it. If you want an escape from a less-than-ideal job, there are writing possibilities but you'd be better off blogging or doing reviews while looking for a change of career. If you discover a passion for writing, that's great; if not, at least you'll have a monetized source of income and can branch out into business or a new job.
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    Be as secure as befits your needs. Whether you're going to work part-time and write full-time, live off an inheritance, have an arrangement with a spouse or partner, etc., you must be able to cope with this lifestyle, including financially. If you are not able to pay the bills and meet the rent, this may not be the time be going writing full-time. That said, this is a good time to review your expenses and budget for living on less. If you're serious about writing, a sound budget that cuts out all unnecessary expenses may be enough to get you the freedom of time you need to be a writer. If you are determined to write, the sacrifices will be worth it.
    • Be aware that ultimately, a successful writer needs to let go of crutches that hold them back. Often, this is the certainty of a job. While the job is there, the writing is a hobby. As soon as the job is gone, writing is your job. Are you able to make that leap?
    • If you live where health benefits are not publicly funded, you must consider your own health issues and those of your family as part of what you consider in your security.
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    Be pragmatic as well as passionate. You might want to write novels or big non-fiction tomes. However, when you start out writing full-time, it might be a good idea to keep up the smaller paid-writing stints you developed during your transition (if you took one), or start with this, so that you have a regular reason for writing, income if you need it, and feedback on a regular basis. As your confidence develops and you have a settled routine in place, it will likely become easier to discipline your writing to achieve your larger project.
    • On the other hand, if you prefer to just get stuck into the big writing, go for it! However, even with such a determination, it can be good to have something else to work on, to remain balanced, be it another piece of writing or a hobby. Chores and raising a family do not count for this equation, as you must do these anyway.
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    Learn about publishing. As well as learning everything you can about the skills to be a good writer, also learn about what happens post-writing. You must be across how publishing works and how marketing works. Also, decide whether you plan on sending your work to others to sell or you'll try to do that on your own, realizing that although the internet has made self-publishing easier, the marketing will likely involve a big part of your time and efforts.
    • Consider talking to publishers about your ideas to see what they would expect from you if you did send them a manuscript for their consideration.
    • Find an editor you can rely on and who is able to help your writing reach its full potential. All good writers have a good editor behind their work. Use this person to refine and improve your books and written pieces.


  • Stuck for what to write? Start with the things you know best, then build on them. Free write. Send suggestions to a friend by email and have the friend suggest which one he or she wants to learn more about. Read other people's suggestions for getting started. There are always ways to push your creativity into action.
  • Keep a journal. Write down your writing progress. It may sound strange but it can be a huge confidence booster to watch how you're growing and becoming more courageous at your writing over the months and years.
  • Realize that those close to you might not always be supportive and might see your choice to be a writer as what you're doing until a "real job" comes along. When you choose to write full-time, this can be stymied if someone close to you is not happy about your choice or considers it to be indulgent or lacking in seriousness. It is important to explain to this person that you are serious and that you intend to pursue this for real. Perhaps show this person your writing set-up, your goal plans and pieces of your writing. If this person continues to dismiss your choice, agree to disagree for now. If it is someone on whom you rely financially, suggest a timeline to meet, after which you will entertain a return to work to bring in more income.


  • Being a writer for a full-time job is hard work, usually poorly paid and requires a lot of ongoing self-discipline. It isn't always obvious what you have to give up to write full-time until you're doing it. If you find it isn't something you're suited to, there is no shame in changing your course and pursuing something else. At least you have tried and you know what's involved.

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Categories: Better Writing