How to Become a Successful Writer

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Dec 4, 2019 • 2 min read

Different people have different ideas of what it means to be a successful writer. For some aspiring writers, success means being a published author with a novel on the New York Times bestseller list. For many, though, being a successful writer simply means making a living writing fiction or nonfiction or getting their work published in a magazine or newspaper.



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How to Become a Successful Writer in 5 Steps

No matter what anyone says, there are no surefire, step-by-step writing guides that will automatically turn you into the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. However, there are some simple, actionable steps you can follow to put yourself in the best position for success. Here are some tips that can put you on the path to becoming a successful writer:

  1. Write every single day. This may sound obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less essential. Developing a daily writing habit is the best way to hone your writing skills, push through writer’s block, and unlock the full potential of your creativity. Treat creative writing like a full-time job, setting ambitious but reasonable deadlines for yourself. If you have a day job, even carving out twenty minutes per day to write will help you improve your writing skills. The only way to become a better writer is through hard work and consistency.
  2. Join a writers’ group. Find people who are at the same point in their writing career as you and meet up regularly to read each other’s work and give one another feedback. Cultivating a community of peers can be invaluable, especially when you’re trying to complete an ambitious project like a novel for the first time. Writers’ groups can help you stay disciplined and provide you with helpful notes, writing tips, and edits.
  3. Find a mentor. Even the most successful authors were once in your shoes. If you have a connection with a published author, they will likely give you writing advice if you ask in a polite and tactful way. Make a list of professional writers that you look up to and try reaching out via email or social media. See if they’d be willing to meet for a coffee. A mentor can help you navigate the business side of writing, offering a wellspring of advice on everything ranging from the publishing industry to the merits of self-publishing to the details of how to write a query letter for your first novel.
  4. Read constantly. If you’re not writing your own book or short story, you should be reading the work of other great writers. Read all types of writing, from novels to nonfiction books to short story collections. Read work from your favorite writers, bestselling authors, and writers whose work you are unfamiliar with. If you want to be a good writer, you need to consume good writing.
  5. Build an online presence. Part of being a successful writer is marketing yourself; having a robust online presence can be an essential part of self-marketing. Make sure your website is up to date and filled with samples of your best work. Appear on podcasts to expand your reach and potential audience. If you’re a blogger, try to post as often as possible—especially if you’re trying to get your first book off the ground. Oftentimes, a writer’s online presence can be the thing that attracts traditional publishers and publishing houses that are looking for new voices.

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