This should be easy. It will require no odd magic, because you were born to write (even if the mortals around you don’t know it yet). Hell, after the doctor slapped air into your lungs, she handed you a Montblanc and scroll.
Kudos, Chosen One.
Now it’s time to make good on this glorious destiny—to shout it from the mountain tops (we’ll talk about the importance of cliché in a later post). The world doesn’t just want to hear about the pupal stages of your writing career—it needs to hear it. And if you need to oversaturate a few dinner parties with writerly smalltalk, get people out of their comfort zones so they understand and revere this righteous path, so be it.
Nevertheless, some people just won’t understand. It’s a special thing, writing; and writers are something akin to the fabled unicorn. If this is you—if your pen drips unicorn tears every time you put it to page—then listen up.
Here’s all you need to know to become a writer:
Don’t study anything remotely related to writing in college.
Most of the writers I’ve creepily observed while lurking around LinkedIn found professional writing in a roundabout way. They studied biology or accounting and barely made passing marks. Some never went to school at all. Just remember that an English degree is pushing it and creative writing majors never make it.
At house parties, loosen things up by telling everyone you’re a writer.
If people don’t ask what you do, ask first and don’t pay attention to the answer—writers are terrible listeners, and you’ll need that time dream up something catchy that makes you sound distinguished.
Drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
Image and failing health are everything in this game. Bonus points for owning three suits (one linen) and idolizing Don Draper, Hunter S. Thompson, and Charles Bukowski.
Buy an expensive notebook.
And a good pen. Hold the latter while staring at the former, each and every day. When you do decide to Do the Act, edit as you go—”drafts” are the mark of doomed scribes too wet behind the ears to ever dry out. Leuchtturm1917 and the Zebra F-301 Ballpoint Retractable Pen are two products I (get paid to) recommend.
Neatly stack classic writing references on your desk.
Strunk & White. Chicago Manual of Style. Bonus points for a synonym finder and functional typewriter you never use. Digital resources are fair-weather crutches.
Break all the rules.
Do it early and do it often. Fragments. Noun stack. The way you think semicolons should be used. Flouting established and widely recognized writing standards is a great way to draw attention to your personal brand. (And it’s never too early to megaphone opinions about the serial comma all over Facebook.)
Don’t take no for an answer.
As a wise, value-driven person once said, Snowflakes don’t win clients and build audience. Cold-calling and snarky emails are your new best friends.
Seven things. All you have to do is these seven measly things and you’ll become a writer. Strange alchemy, I agree, like a caterpillar cannibalizing itself to become a mariposa. But if you were born for this, dammit, the wings are already yours—all you have to do is chomp those mandibles.
Or you could just, you know, hire me for your copywriting needs.
I forgot to add shameless self-promotion to the list.
PS I’d like to dedicate these words to Mrs. Tampa, my eighth grade typing teacher. Without you, madam, I’d still be staring down at my keyboard, punching away with index fingers decrepit from overuse. And sorry we printed stuff all the time just to bug you. I know who it was, but you don’t become a writer by snitching.