At 12 years old, I attempted to write my first book by cutting out pieces of brown construction paper and sliding the pages into a typewriter. (Yes, I said typewriter. I am not the young chicken that I appear to be!) What I was then and still am now is a determined person. And although the story that I crafted was the non-twin, Dominican from Washington Heights version of Sweet Valley High (don’t sue me, Francine Pascal!) I knew then that I was going to learn how to be a writer.
The problem was that I didn’t know how to be a writer. I didn’t have any writer connections. There weren’t any “how to write” series’ like this guide right here. There definitely weren’t any online writing groups for women of color. At least not that I knew of. Every adult that crossed my path worked a 9-5. If they were creative, like my Uncle Chino who sings and paints, it was more of a hobby than a career. The rest of my aunts and uncles worked at a factory, my mother was a single, stay-at-home mom, and my dad wasn’t in my life from age 12 to 19. He was also a mechanic. (I do get my entrepreneurial spirit from him.)
The one thing I knew how to do to bring me closer to my writer’s dream was to study the craft that I loved. I practically lived at the library. Because books are free and I could check out 3 books at a time. I didn’t read books on how to be a writer. Instead, I read books from the genres that I loved.
Invest in Your Craft by Reading and Writing
Reading the books that you want to write is how you learn the craft of writing. It’s a lot easier to pick up a manual on “how to be a writer,” but it’s also a lot less fun. What is it that they say in school? (I should know, I was a teacher.) You become a better reader and writer by reading and writing. So, pick up a book in the genre that you want to master. Don’t let the perfect prose intimidate you. Take note of any writing formulas or styles, much like I do when reading romance novels. Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
Invest by Growing Your Confidence
Reading and writing grew my confidence as a writer, especially since I continued to study the craft after my failed Dominican Sweet Valley High debut. (It wasn’t a debut at all. In fact, I stopped writing the book after my sister made fun of it.) I could have stopped right there, but remember, I am determined AF. Also, I felt that I had a pretty strong voice as a writer even at 12 years old. Probably because I had no friends (the librarians don’t count) and I did so much actual reading and writing.
That leads me to the next tip on how to be a writer: invest in your craft by loving yourself. You see, self-love is the best love. If you don’t feel worthy, smart enough, or talented enough to be a writer, you will find every excuse in the book (no pun intended) to not write, not show your prose, not pitch an article, not finish a book and, ultimately, not try. My free self-love affirmations can help get you out of your own way. I created them because I struggle with self-worth and it’s hindered my progress as an entrepreneur and a writer, and I want to help others that feel the same. I often wonder how much more successful I would be if I had figured out my self-worth shit then. Then I remember to feel grateful for all that I have accomplished. Pretty much, every single goal except one – to traditionally publish a romance novel. But it’s going to happen. I won’t stop until it does.
Invest by Taking a Course
I have to say that I met many of my writer goals because I invested in my craft when I took a non-credit journalism course in 2003. I wanted to learn more about the craft and how to be a writer. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. And let me tell you, that 10-week class opened my eyes to a brand new world.
I learned the art of writing for magazines, how to pitch editors, and how to make connections with editors.
Being in a space with other creative dreamers and a teacher that made a living off of words led to my next decision – to study writing in graduate school. You don’t need a Master’s to be a writer, but I felt the urge to learn in a more structured and traditional environment. You do, however, need to invest in yourself as a writer by taking a course like I did or even joining a writers group, like the Love Sujeiry Writers Lab. Doing so allows your creativity to flourish as you are in a space with other writers.
Let me tell you: it feels damn good to surround yourself with people that get you. A writer’s experience is very unique. As someone who has zero writer friends, I know how fulfilling it feels to get in a writing groove and tap away at your computer. I also feel how misunderstood you feel when you tell your friends you rather finish a paragraph than go out for drinks. The Love Sujeiry Writers Lab creates a safe space for you to focus on writing and only writing. You will learn about your craft and the industry, which is a must if you’re brand spanking new or have tried to write professionally but haven’t succeeded. When you join:
- You will receive writing tools.
- You will have an allotted writing time.
- You will have an accountability buddy.
- You will have an expert (me!) to guide you along your path during our LIVE “Pick My Brain” sessions.
- You will get a chance to win a one-on-one “Pick My Brain” session.
All good things to help you so you can stop Googling “how to be a writer.” Because if anyone knows what it takes, it’s a 16-year writing professional who began her career with torn pieces of brown construction paper.