How to Become a Writer vs. How to Build Your World Around Words

How Do I Become a Writer?

Because I’m an author, lots of people tell me (usually in a whispered, conspiratorial tone):

“Meg, I want to be a writer.”

Sometimes they ask, with rising desperation, possibly gripping at my sleeve like an Austen heroine in pursuit of a husband: how do I become a writer?”

If they’re really having a moment, they add the old classic: “I know I have a book in me.”

I often want to give these people a hug because – however they phrase their question – they’re usually looking pretty plagued and downtrodden by their writerly aspirations. 

If the question of how to become a writer plagues you too, I’ve got some bad news and some good news.

The bad news is: you’ve been asking the wrong thing. The good news? There’s a much more exciting and expansive question to ask, which I’ve rarely (if ever) heard:

“How can I build a life around words?” 💡

If your To-Do List reads:

⛈ Publish a book/get a byline/make a big pot of cash from my words.
❌ Become a writer.
🙈 (Similarly amorphous, enormous goal here).

…then it’s little wonder if you’re going around in circles.

Why? Because the first step in a writing life isn’t to just bash out a book from nowhere, or to pop on some tortoise-shell specs and take convincing headshots with an old typewriter in the background; it’s to make your life about words

Look, I’m guessing tomorrow you’ve got some other things besides becoming a writer on the agenda. Things like basic hygiene, paying rent, and getting a grocery shop in. Yes? Then the day after will likely be the same. And the day after that. And so on. 

The truth is there is rarely, if ever, a single day that comes where you’ll suddenly become a writer.

It doesn’t happen because of a byline or your book in a bookshop. Instead, it’s a way of being born out of a million tiny moments where you put words at the centre of your life. Here’s an example…

A “Build Your Life Around Words” To-Do List would instead read:

🌈 Capture my shower reveries in the notes on my phone.
✅ Treat my work emails as a chance to hone my ability to connect through words.
✨ Journal a dialogue between my inner creative and my inner critic.

…then you’ll be getting somewhere. Because words will become the centre of your life. Writing will expand around you (the real you; not a vague, flickering “Writer You” that’s been made up in your head). The way you exist day-to-day will gradually shift.

See the difference? It’s not an overnight hack, but if you focus on building a writing life moment by moment rather than hoping to blink twice and see a whole new you appear, your days might just start looking a whole lot more wordsy. 

And, my friend, a wordsy life is what being a writer is all about.

Go get into it:

I’ve got lots of structured ways to build a life around words over at The Joyful School of Writing.

See you there?

M x