What Makes a Writer a Writer?

After 11 years of homeschooling my children, they will be going to public school in the fall.  I kind of feel like a baby birdie being pushed out of the nest.  As I’ll half falling and half flying, I’m trying to find my wings – again.

Each year, for one week in June my house is silent day in an day out.  My peeps are off at camp and I’m reflecting, and planning. It is a coveted week, as any homeschool mom can attest. We all love our littles – but hour after hour, day after day of silence —pure bliss.   I can have more than one thought in a row without an interruption.  This year that week is this week.

But, this year there are no new books coming via UPS and no letters being sent to the state, and no fingers clipping away at Excel making lesson plans. So, after two days away with my husband, one day lounging on the deck reading, I woke up yesterday ready to tackle the rest of my life.  I pulled out my life goals, which I do every year during this week.  Years back I set up 1 year, 5 year, 10 year and 25 year goals.  I am two years from reaching my 10 year goals.  One of them is to be transitioning into writing. A lifetime goal is to write a book and be published.  Goals I set up 8 years ago still align with my desires. I felt like sugar water was being pumped in my veins.  I’m working my plan. Wahoo!

But then the question creeps into my mind. How? How do I write?  I mean, I know how to write – I’v been journaling and blogging for two years come September. But, when people would ask me what I do, I would say I am a homeschooling mama.  It’s quite a different thing to say, “I write or I blog or I’m a writer.”   What if there is some secret code and I don’t know it?  What if I think it’s writing but everyone who reads it doesn’t think so?  I suspect half the battle is getting outside my head.  At least I hope so.  So, I headed to the handy-dandy web to see what I could find.

Here’s some of what I found.  To be a writer – you need to write.  Period.  Now, to be a published writer or a professional writer, or even a writer that someone reads – that is a different thing.  But, to be a writer – you just have to put your fingers on the keyboard and make them move. A lot.  Apparently a whole lot.

This website has a ton of helpful information on getting started. how-to-write-a-book-now 

How to become a writer

1.  Write every day.  Write in the morning before you start your day. Write every day for an hour.  Write 10 minutes a day. Figure out what works for you.  Just do it!  You can’t be a writer unless you write.  The best way to learn to write is to write.  It won’t be great and it probably won’t be good for a long time.  I’ve read plan for 10 years of writing before you write anything worth anything.  The above article says it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That’s a lot of writing.

2.  Read every day.  Read a lot. One of my goals for this year was to read a half hour each day. I use Goodreads, if you want to check out what I’m currently reading.  Currently, I am in the middle of 4 books. I’ve always been one of those people who reads more than one book at a time.  No idea why -that’s just the way it seems to go.  I’ve committed to reading 25 books this year, and am currently at 12, not counting the ones I am currently reading.  I should have done the challenge by pages not books since I seem to be picking long books! Lonesome Dove was over 800 pages and All the Light We Cannot See is over 500.

3.  Seek advice from other writers.  The above article says, “When you feel ready and have a small body of work you feel good about, seek out other writers who can help you. Share your work and get their comments. If all they do is criticize and tear your work to shreds, don’t give up. Take their advice to heart and try to do better. Eventually you will get more compliments than criticism.Once you reach the stage where you are getting positive feedback, look for places where you can publish.”

4.  Live.  Material comes from real life experiences.  Your job, your home, your family, the people wandering around the mall – material is everywhere – just waiting for you.  My children participated in a Model UN simulation at a local community college earlier this year.  Since the drive was long, I decided to hang out at the college for the morning instead of driving back and forth. I overheard this conversation, that I quickly jotted down – knowing it would fit in somewhere, somehow in my writing.

Student, “What are your plans for Christmas?”

Adult working at the college, “Burying my dad.”

Student, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Adult, “Oh, No.  He didn’t die. I’m just waiting for him to.”

Ok then.  Be prepared at all times to jot down quotes, ideas, whatever.  You will think you’ll remember, but if you are like me – you won’t.  I use Evernote – and have it installed on my phone and Ipad, so I’m always prepared.

how-to-write-a-book-now  linked to this website campnanowrimo.  It encourages you to write a novel, 50,000 words in a month.  You can adapt the number of words or type of writing, but that’s the general idea.  There is a “camp” starting on July 1 it seems a bit overwhelming to me at the moment – but I’m never afraid to stretch myself.  I figure even if I don’t write the 50,000 words next month, I will have written more than if I didn’t try.  And who knows, maybe I’ll do it!

What about you? How did you get started writing?  What is your number 1 tip to a newbie?



  1. Pingback: Writing Goals: They Keep You Writing « A Day at the Beach

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