How to Become a Writer (No, Really)

If you want to become a writer: dream big, make a plan and visualise. 

But then let it be. Appreciate what you have now. Because guess what “arriving” as a freelance writer feels like?

Yep – it feels pretty similar to what you’re feeling like right now.

This is what it takes to become a writer…

Among the blog posts, the Twitter feeds and thousands of words, I learned something yesterday. Amid the running in the rain and the pounding of the keyboard, I listened to a short Tony Robbins video on YouTube he made earlier in the year.

Tony was suggesting that humans have an overwhelming urge that compels us to conform to the type of person we predetermine ourselves to be. We crave consistency so much that we’ll do anything to keep in line with how we’ve already defined ourselves.

Here’s the vid. If you’re short on time, skip to 15:23…

[video_player type=”youtube” youtube_remove_logo=”Y” width=”560″ height=”315″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vd2F0Y2g/dj1GYnhKUXBQS3lnVQ==[/video_player]

About half way through this video, Tony talks about setting a standard for yourself. We all do this – just to varying degrees. When exactly we set these standards for what ‘type’ of person we decide we are I don’t know. Perhaps it’s the first, second or third time we fail as adults.

Perhaps much sooner. Perhaps we base it on the people we surround ourselves with the most. Perhaps we base it on how we grew up, or on our very first job.

Either way, it does appear true that when people define themselves as something, they get pretty serious about doing everything in their power to ensure they conform to the standard they have set for themselves. (For instance, self-proclaimed “fitness fanatics” set themselves a standard to always exercise, come rain or shine – and they do.)

This also means that when somebody defines themselves as “an office worker” (willingly or not), they’ll invariably always be an office worker. Somebody who labels themselves as a “labourer” will unearth labouring jobs throughout their lives, no matter how much they dream of being a writer, artist, actor or…. dentist.

It’s also interesting that those who consider themselves wealthy will find a way to make themselves so, despite any outside or mitigating circumstances.

It has been asserted many times that if all the money in the world was taken from each and every person – the rich, the poor and everybody in between – the poor would go back to being poor, the so-called middle class would go back to working for their money in an office (or wherever) and the rich would find a way to be wealthy once again.

It stands to reason then that those who consider themselves “writers” – whether because they write everyday for themselves, or because they get paid to write – will do what they believe writers do every single day. They don’t start off with loads of enthusiasm and then stop writing or stop trying to get published after the novelty of setting a goal wears off.

[Tweet “Real writers don’t need willpower #amwriting”]

This is the power of setting a standard for yourself.

Because, as Tony Robbins says in the above video, setting a standard for yourself is a much easier method for achieving a goal than using willpower. When I finally gave up smoking I didn’t use willpower. In fact, if I think about it, I’ve used willpower all the times I’ve ever failed at anything the first time around. When I quit smoking I set myself a standard; I said “I’m a non-smoker now” – and (crucially) I believed it.

In fundamental terms then, this is how you become a writer (in fact, this is how you “become” anything):

Set a standard for yourself and believe in it.

For tips on how to make a living as a freelance writer, and to get my FREE eBook on how to build a solid portfolio and reputation online, click here now.

Image courtesy of Ritesh Nayak via Flickr.

10 thoughts on “How to Become a Writer (No, Really)

  1. This so true. When I was a child I use to tell everyone – I am a writer. It was easy and felt natural to write every day. I created books, magazines and won competitions. Then something happened in my early twenties and I stopped thinking of myself as a writer and writing became such a struggle I stopped. Many years later, I started to declare – I am a writer again – my writing career took off.

    1. I fear that “something” that happened in your twenties happens to a lot of us Norma. I’m not sure it has a name but it’s something to do with doubt, fear and “becoming a grown-up” (whatever that means). Glad to hear you’re officially a writer again (although I suspect you were all along, right?) All the best to you.

  2. Hey Kirsty!

    Hope the in-house writing job is treating you well? All those snow trips AMIRITE? haha a lil’ envious but stoked for you (just went snowboarding for the first time last weekend, talk about new found passion haha).

    But also wanted to say, I enjoyed this post, completely agree with the ideas (Keen to watch that vid) and I know EXACTLY what you mean regarding smoking.

    When I gave it up will power had NOTHING to do with it. It was just a matter of deciding this is not for me anymore. I think the cravings that are caused by “stress”, “a bad day” or whatever are all just excuses to justify that next one cause after 20-30 a day for 4 years, I don’t think I had those cravings once, I just simply enjoyed cigarettes!

    Anyways, I’ll stop rambling, Enjoy your day haha!


    1. Hey Jax – good to hear from you!

      You’re so right about quitting smoking. It’s about saying “I don’t smoke. I’m a non-smoker” to yourself more than anything. The point is, if you don’t truly believe what you’re telling yourself though, it won’t stick. Same with anything – being a writer, an artist, a fitness fanatic – anything!

      The in-house gig is going very well thanks. Writing about travel is all I’ve ever wanted to do so I’m happy. Still keeping my other freelance writing stuff going so it’s all working out well. No free ski trips yet but it’s early days… 😉

      Thanks for stopping by Jax.

  3. Great post, and very timely for what I’ve been struggling with. I’m starting to earn a decent living as a freelance writer (thanks largely to your free e-book), but what I really want is to be a full-time novelist, which is a dream I was on the verge of giving up due to discouragement. But recently I’ve renewed my determination to keep working toward that dream, whatever it takes, and have begun thinking of myself primarily as a novelist again. Thanks, Kirsty.

  4. WOW!

    Hi Kirsty,

    Excellent post. Thanking for sharing this. Even though I do not care for Tony all that much, it does seem to always give some great insights and this concept of setting standards for yourself is very powerful.

    I am glad I took ownership of the title FREELANCE WRITER AND AUTHOR

  5. What an excellent perspective! We are what we believe. This is something I am working on, as I am trying to get my writing career off the ground here in my late 20s after realizing, obviously, that I should have been pursuing it this whole time. Thanks for the post!

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