- Two Women Chatting
Top tips on how to become a writer
In our latest Two Women Chatting podcast we chatted with Alexandra Potter award-winning novelist about her book ‘Confessions of a Forty-Something something F**K up’ which has been turned into the TV series ‘Not Dead Yet’ airing on Disney Plus on 8th February 2023. Described by Celia Walden in The Telegraph as ‘The New Bridget Jones’.'It is a a novel for any woman who wonders how the hell she got here, and why life isn't quite how she imagined it was going to be. And who is desperately trying to figure it all out when everyone around them is making gluten-free brownies.'
So after our chat with Alexandra we thought if any of you midlifers would like to try your hand at writing now is the time. No excuses - the kids have left home. You have the time to try something new, push yourself out of your comfort zone and re-invent yourself as a writer.
We have added numerous resources on our website to help you on your journey. We do of course realise becoming a successful writer is not easy but our mantra is 'unless you try …..'
Here are our tips to get you started
There are many types of writing from blogging, freelance writing, ghost writing (when you write for another person), journalism, technical writing, fiction, and non fiction so take some time to learn about each before you decide which path to take.
1. Read and listen to podcasts
The more you read, the more you’re exposed to high-quality writing. Reading various genres of books and listening to podcasts gives you lots of ideas you can use in your own writing. Make yourself a monthly reading and listening list and enjoy.
2. Sign up for a writing course
You don’t need a university degree to be a writer but what you do need is to keep learning and developing as a writer. There are many ways to develop as a writer:
Take online courses on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, Master Class, BBC Maestro
Enter writing contests
Create a writers website and learn how to develop it into an asset
Consider a college writing course or a degree in English Literature, Communication Studies or Journalismwriter's
3. Make sure you write everyday
You need to write to improve and the more you write the easier it becomes. In order to do your best work, you need a writing space that is totally free of distractions. This is the one time when you cannot be multitasking!
Clarify your goals and prepare. Know what you want to accomplish before each day, each week, each month. Set yourself a target number of words to write each day. 1000 words is a good amount.
Turn off all social me.
Focus on one thing at a time. Make it part of your daily routine. Choose one task and give all your attention to that for 40 minutes to an hour. Just don’t procrastinate, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Writing tools. Start with something you know will be manageable and enjoyable like a blog even when you’re tired and not in the mood to write. Trust me a year from now, if you stick with your daily practice, you’ll have sharpened your writing skill and learned how to keep going even whatever your circumstances.
Make use project management tools to automate your workflow and free up more time for deep work. Apps like PomoDoneApp use the Pomodoro technique to help you accomplish more in manageable chunks of time. Along with using a habit tracker app it is helpful to set a minimum word count target for the day – or a minimum number of minutes spent writing.
Stop when you’re done. We're great believers in quality over quantity and don’t get bogged down in research, adding links, formatting, or overthinking. Just write, you can go back later with fresh eyes to add edit, and review.
Keep a journal to jot down ideas and any experiences you could use later. We think a Moleskine is the best one you can get for writing
Consider purchasing a Productivity Planner. It will really help you focus on your daily and weekly tasks.
Self Journal – similar to the Productivity Planner but taking a focus on gratitude and tracking small actions every day.
4. Join a Writing Community
It’s never too early to join a writing community and to start learning from other members and sharing what you know.
Facebook Groups for writers (Search “writing,” and you’ll find plenty)
Facebook groups for your chosen genre or writing path
Linkedin writing groups
Local writing groups ('Look up your nearest city writing groups')
Online communities like NaNoWriMo and Critique Circle
Attend Networking events for writers like the Writer's Digest Annual Conference , The London Book Fair and Hay's Literary Festivals where you’ll meet other writers and you can share insights and ideas.
5. Can I start a writing career when I still have a job?
Absolutely, just set aside the time to:
Connect with other writers
Sign up for an online class
Consider creating a simple writer website so people know you're there
6. Finding paid writing opportunities
There are numerous places to look for opportunities so allocate time for job searching and connecting on social media with editors, publishers and fellow writers.
Job boards: Problogger, Flex Jobs, Fiverr, Freelance Writing and People by The Hour and Upwork
LinkedIn: in writing or industry-specific groups
Facebook: in writing or niche-specific groups
7. Do you need your own writer’s website?
No as you can host your writing profile on sites like Contently or Linkedin, but with your own self-hosted website, you can create the profile you want. It can show your qualifications and gives future clients a taste of your personality, too.There are also other benefits:
You can start a blog of your own with specialised niche content
You can earn affiliate income with your blog posts
You can create stylized links to your porfolio
Don’t worry, maintaining an online platform doesn’t have to be a full-time job. And using a site builder like Wix makes it that much easier.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
Visit our Midlife Reinvention resources page which has a collection of useful links from 3rd party websites and content.
Listen to our podcast where we chat with Alexandra Potter
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