How to Become a Writer

Sean Glatch  |  May 24, 2024  | 

So you’re wondering how to become a writer. The short answer is: anyone who writes is a writer. However, becoming a writer who’s serious about their professional career requires lots of work, and if you’re wondering how to become a professional writer, you’re here to start your journey towards a productive and successful literary career.

How do you become a writer? You don’t need a degree to be a writer, nor do you need to be a certain age. Becoming a writer simply requires an admiration for—and a longing to create with—language. So, don’t worry about becoming a writer later in life or lacking a formal education. (That’s what is here for!)

No one can teach you how to admire the written word, but the instructors at are experts at turning longing into language. That’s why this article covers everything you need on how to become a writer. From the personal to the professional, let’s dive into everything writers need to build a successful literary career.

How to Become a Writer: Contents

How to Become a Writer: Anyone Can Become One

Even today, there’s a persistent myth that writers are elite, born-with-it Ivory Tower folks who possess some ineffable gift of the Muses. Yes, some great writers were born with greatness (and plenty were born with wealth and privilege), but anyone who calls themselves a writer does so because they labor with the written word.

Becoming a writer simply requires an ardent exploration of language.

In others words, you don’t need an MFA from the University of Iowa to call yourself a writer. Becoming a writer simply requires an ardent exploration of language. If we had to boil a writer down to three requirements, it wouldn’t involve age or degree. The 4 traits for becoming a writer are:

  1. Passion for the written word,
  2. Desire to expand the boundaries and possibilities of language,
  3. Persistence and patience, bordering on stubbornness, and
  4. Willingness to grow and learn continuously.

Many writers who have these traits stop themselves from writing, maybe because they’re wondering how to become a writer without a degree, or simply because they don’t believe in themselves without the privilege and connections writers seem to have. Now, writers certainly benefit from a university education or a family legacy in literature, but countless writers have acquired respect and success without a degree or name recognition.

Ernest Hemingway never went to college, but he still won a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize; neither did Maya Angelou attend university, yet she’s celebrated as the “black woman’s poet laureate” and later accepted a professorship with Wake Forest University. Degrees are just paper; it’s words that matter.

Degrees are just paper; it’s words that matter.

It’s Never Too Late to Become a Writer

Becoming a writer has no age restriction; the act of writing is rated G for the General Public, and those aforementioned traits are found in writers from ages 2 to 99+.

Many writers discover their writing talents in their later years. Why, exactly? Neurology reveals there are two types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. “Fluid” refers to creative and adaptive thinking, including activities like writing and problem solving. “Crystallized” refers to the solidified body of knowledge people draw from—all the words, definitions, and experiences that build a foundation for the world.

Generally, younger adults have more fluid intelligence, whereas life experience builds one’s crystallized intelligence over time. The two intelligences tend to converge in a person’s 40s, since this is an age where the faculties for fluid intelligence haven’t declined, and crystallized intelligence abounds. Not-so-coincidentally, many writers see their careers flourish in their 40s and 50s!

Many celebrated writers didn’t put pen to paper until middle age or later.

In fact, many celebrated writers didn’t put pen to paper until middle age or later. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until her 40s, and her Little House series didn’t start printing until she was 65. Likewise, Most of Wallace Stevens’ work was published after he turned 50; despite being a poet, he worked at an insurance company, and most of his coworkers were shocked when he won a Pulitzer at 75. Nobody knew that he wrote!

Finally, many university students return for a writing degree after establishing a career elsewhere. BFA and MFA programs around the world educate students in their 30s and beyond; in 2017, the average age of a low-residency MFA student in the U.S. was 35.4, according to LitHub and AWP.

Whether you’re 19 or 90, you’re never too old to write. The best time to write is yesterday; the second-best time is today.

How to Become a Writer: Where to Begin your Writing Journey

Rather than an If-Then structure, the writing profession follows a Became-Because structure.

How do you become a writer? Where do you begin? The writing profession is unlike most professions, which follow an If-Then structure. If you get a bachelor’s degree, Then you can work as a nurse, computer scientist, or accountant; If you join a worker’s guild or apprenticeship program, Then you can find work in a number of trade jobs.

The writing profession follows a Became-Because structure. Zora Neale Hurston became a writer because she obtained degrees from Howard University and Barnard College, encouraging her to dissect the African American experience through a literary and anthropological lens.

Conversely, Haruki Murakami became a writer because of a baseball game.

The qualifications for becoming a writer are unique to the individual, and every writer is formed by personal interests and experiences. As a result, no one can tell you where to begin your writing journey; however, if you’re wondering how to become a writer, you’ve already started your journey by thinking about it.

If you’re wondering how to become a writer, you’ve already started your journey by thinking about it.

How to Become a Professional Writer: What “Professional” Means

One distinction to help you think about your writing journey is the difference between amateur and professional writers. If you’re not sure what you want to become, start with the following question: what does “professional” mean?

There are, generally, two classes of writers: amateurs and professionals. Before describing the professional writer, let’s be clear: “amateur” is not derogatory, and professional writers are not “better” than amateurs. Amateur comes from the Latin amator, “lover.” An amateur writer loves the written word just as much, sometimes even more, than the professional; amateurs simply have less pressure, deadlines, and financial dependence on writing. It’s a pastime, not a career.

If you want writing to be a significant portion of your income, then you aspire to being a professional writer.

If you want writing to be a significant portion of your income, then you aspire to being a professional writer. Professional writers have to approach their writing as a business, building a literary audience and keeping a regular writing schedule. Professional writers need to understand the ins and outs of the publishing industry—which they often learn through obtaining a university degree—and it also helps to have formal training in the publishing world and experience operating literary magazines.

How do you start to work toward becoming a professional writer? Below are resources to get you started.

How to Become a Writer: Resources for Becoming a Professional Writer

At some point, the professional writer needs to know the ins and outs of writing as a business. This list covers the essentials of how to become a professional writer.

How to make money as a writer

Taxes as a self-employed creative

Resources on publishing

Becoming a writer online

Things to know before taking writing classes

Additional resources for learning how to become a writer

How to Become a Writer: Developing a Writing Habit

How do professional writers spend their workdays? Perhaps the trickiest part about becoming a writer is establishing a writing habit. For example, Haruki Murakami runs a 10K every morning to support his writing, and Charles Dickens wrote (and slept) facing north to improve his creativity.

Perhaps the trickiest part about becoming a writer is establishing a writing habit.

What works for one person rarely works for another, so experiment with writing habits—and when you find one that works, stick with it.

Generally, you can parse the writing business into 3 separate components:

  1. The writing life—putting pen to paper at regular intervals.
  2. Scheduled time for “the business of writing”—literary submissions, applying for grants, etc.
  3. An active media/marketing presence—blogging, tweeting, emailing, etc.

You’ll want to schedule time for each of these elements in your daily writing habit. Of course, this is easier said than done. Budding writers often overestimate their ability to work: they think they can spend 3 hours writing, 2 hours replying to emails, and 2 hours submitting work to journals. Then they spend the afternoon watching reruns of BBC quiz shows. (Yes! I did do this recently.)

That’s why forging a consistent writing habit is essential—for amateur writers as well as professionals. Writing at the same place at the same time encourages your brain to write every day. And, if you can’t keep yourself focused on writing, try experimenting with different writing rituals. If a 10K helps Murakami write, something equally unique could help you, too.

How to Become a Writer: Take Your Next Step with!

The classes we’ve curated in our upcoming schedule will take your writing life to the next level. Whether learning a new writing style or mastering the business of writing, becoming a writer feels a whole lot simpler with

Sean Glatch

Sean Glatch is a poet, storyteller, and screenwriter based in New York City. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Milk Press,8Poems, The Poetry Annals, on local TV, and elsewhere. When he's not writing, which is often, he thinks he should be writing.


  1. Brilliant review Misty

  2. Kanesaki Bakaiti on July 22, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    I hope, I can be a better writer with your support.

  3. Vasy Kafidoff on December 15, 2021 at 3:19 am

    Yeah. Same thing as with all other fields. Practice, practice, and once again, practice!
    It’s like a sport, you should always find new ways to practice.

  4. Antonie on September 22, 2022 at 2:15 am

    This really helped me out. Thank you so much!

  5. Cody Buell on November 26, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    I’m 14 and i hope to become a writer someday. Thank you so much for the info.

  6. Cedric Turner on January 9, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Thank you for the information About to start my writing journey and thus really helped.

  7. Richard Perry on March 6, 2023 at 8:00 am

    I’m a senior that would like to turn my love of writing into a profession. The information you have presented here has inspired me to continue moving towards that goal.

    Thank You

  8. Kenyi Francis on July 11, 2023 at 7:01 pm

    I live in a rural area of Uganda with very little education but always aspired to write a book on families. I am much encouraged. started it but got stuck ..

  9. Urbanus Kioko mutisya on August 2, 2023 at 3:03 am

    I love writing and thank you for information you have given meand am obliged to say thank.

  10. Aidan Walsh on October 8, 2023 at 7:20 am

    i am very eager to become a writer be that script know how or fiction. i am a sponge for knowledge so i learn as i work. i treat everyday as a school day. i want to learn every single part of the writing career-be that if the editor drinks tea or coffee and how they like there papers folded. i soak information as i do a task. i love to build the bullet points for a story because everything needs a beginning. if you are baking a cake the eggs and flour are needed before you think about putting anything in the oven. to prepare a cake you need a tray to put it in-before you build a story you need a starting and then ingredients to put in along the way. i really love to build a story from different snippets of things. i have a thirst for many different aspects of life having spent a majority of time in hospitals and then being taken advantage of my my family because of my brain injury. so i know more than most in a lot of different subjects and matters in life, i have lost more than most in life but i am here telling my version of it to the big bright world. 0874762400 is my contact number

  11. Razib Paul on February 6, 2024 at 1:52 am

    Discovering the path to becoming a writer is both exhilarating and daunting. It requires a blend of passion, persistence, and honing one’s craft. From mastering the art of storytelling to navigating the intricacies of the publishing world, the journey demands dedication and resilience. Embrace every word written, every rejection faced, for they are stepping stones on the road to literary success.

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