This question has been on the minds of many people and has been asked throughout ages. How does a writer write? What’s their mental process? Is there a way to understand how a writer thinks? Can we emulate a writer? Maybe shadow him and learn his secrets? Honestly, the answer has been right in front of us, all this time. You wanna know what makes a writer? Well, nothing; and everything actually. Calm down and let me explain.
There isn’t any particular thing that makes a writer a writer. A writer is anyone who wants to write. Can you jot down a couple of sentences? There you go, now you are writer. The entire definition of a writer revolves around someone who writes, and it can be about anything. Now, let’s come to the everything part of this problem. How did I get everything? Well, a writer is fueled by his experiences, these are whatever he has learned, seen, heard, or lived through. So you need nothing to become a writer but your own experiences and practice. Lots and lots of practice.
But there are definitely a few traits that make writers stand out. Now, these can either be traits that are embedded from the start or ones you can build, hone, and perfect, like for any other profession or hobby. A pianist does not become an expert without hitting a few bumps, neither does an engineer or a construction worker. You aren’t automatically born with special skills; you have to learn. Similarly, writing is a skill that you must build, polish, practice, and hone overtime.
Now, let’s get to one of the most important habits that make up a writer.
Before you can start writing, you must learn to read. No, you don’t have to reach out to grab self help books, textbooks or books that you find boring. You can read any books that tickle your fancy, be it science fiction, non-fiction, or even textbooks, magazines or blogs and articles – hey, whatever floats your boat is fine. Just Read.
Every article you pick up or any writer you talk to will definitely tell you this – reading is the most important thing you can do as a writer. Reading not only helps you see how other writers write, but it also helps strengthen you as a writer. You build a vocabulary, you understand sentence structure, you can start spotting different methods of writing and different forms of expression. There are many different words that I’ve learned just because I was reading. There isn’t anything you can’t learn, if you just read.
Also, this profession definitely requires reading. You must know what you are writing about, otherwise what will you write about? Research is a huge part of learning about a particular subject that you can write about. In order to make your writing factually correct you will have to read and research extensively.
Let’s say you are writing a story about a soldier during the war that gets captured as a POW and has to go through a series of tasks to escape from enemy camp. Now, unless you are writing a story based on your own experiences, you will have to do extensive research which includes wartime conditions, the lifestyle of a soldier, conditions at a POW camp, different problems that a soldier might encounter, different methods a prisoner can use to escape from an enemy camp, and so on. You see the point. For almost any story you select, you will need to conduct heavy research, which in turn translates to reading. Lots of reading.
After reading, you must have the passion and the heart to write. Writing should come as a release, where it helps you clarify your mind and purge your soul. For many including me, we write better than we speak. Now, this may not mean that we are brilliant writers, but for a lot of famous writers, writing comes more naturally than speaking. There are less jumbled words and you get time to organize your thoughts before you pen them down. You know what you want to say and you know just what you want to put your emphasis on.
writing can be considered as a constant activity that requires a lot of practice. In order to practice or be a good writer, you must write constantly. Jot down ideas, thoughts, feelings, story ideas, anything. Just Write. Similar to reading, you must constantly be writing. This will help you gauge your own writing skills. You will be able to see your progress and also how your writing has changed. A great exercise for writers to help themselves is to write a short paragraph right before they go to sleep and a short paragraph right after they wake up. It is scientifically proven that your best ideas are often right before you go to sleep and right after you wake up.
There are many other different exercises that you can definitely do to improve as a writer. There is no sure shortcut to becoming a writer, it simply requires patience and practice. However, the two main points mentioned above, are traits that you will definitely find in a good writer. So, if you want to become a writer – strap in and pick up a great book to get lost in.