1. Make it a point to write at least once a week. You don’t have to write every day to be successful, but you do have to give yourself some kind of incentive to make sure you do it often enough to make some progress.
2. Write something that scares you. A story you have never told before, but want to. A truth not enough people are brave enough to talk about. Send a message that matters, even if it’s hard for you to do.
3. Read more. Not a writing goal specifically, but the more stories we consume, the more likely we are to sit down and successfully write our own.
4. Enter a writing contest! What do you have to lose?
5. Submit something you have written to a magazine, website, journal, or other publication that officially accepts submissions. You never know — they might accept it!
6. Aim for as many publishing rejections as possible. That might seem like a bad idea, but the truth is, the more you submit, the more you might get rejected … but the greater your chances of NOT getting rejected. Sneaky.
7. Finally start that book you have always wanted to write. Sure, it’s what every aspiring writer says they want to do, but you could be the only one in your circle of friends who actually does it!
8. Start a blog about something you are SUPER passionate about. Do it for fun, not to make money or to attract viral attention. Just do it because you love it.
9. Study stories you like and write stories that contain your favorite elements. Certain stories captivate certain people. Your audience will eventually love the same stories you love, and that connection matters.
10. Start keeping a journal. Journaling is an effective form of creative practice because it’s just for you. No one else is going to read or judge or critique it.
11. Take a writing class. Writing classes aren’t for everyone, and you certainly don’t need to take one in order to “qualify” as a writer. But you’ll never know whether or not a class can help you if you don’t try one and find out. There are plenty of online options to choose from too.
12. Join a critique group (online or off, depending on your preference). Opening yourself up to honest feedback can be scary, but it is an essential way to grow as a storyteller.
13. Work with a writing coach. I’m admittedly not an expert on this, so I don’t have any recommendations right now in terms of how to find a “good” or “legitimate” coach. It can be helpful, however, to work with someone who is willing to coach you one on one and help you improve, whatever that might look like. (More on that to come …)
14. Find a mentor you can trust. Some of my best writing mentors were my high school English and creative writing instructors. Even if you’re not in school, there is a reason why networking and forming connections with other writers is an important part of your growth.
15. Show someone else something you have written, especially if just the thought of doing that scares you.
16. Write something that challenges your own beliefs and shifts the way you normally perceive the world. It’s not just readers who are affected by stories; writers can be, too.
17. Write that one story that has been in your head forever — the one that you have never forgotten, the one you always go back to when your mind begins to wander.
18. Ask yourself why you really want to “be a writer” — officially “define” your reason for pursuing any of the goals you set for your writing life. Your “why” will become essential in the many moments during which you will seriously consider quitting.
19. Reach out to someone about a possible writing opportunity. Experience can be found in the most unexpected of places, but oftentimes, you earn them by asking.
20. Be proud of your work regardless of who has read it or any negative feedback you may have gotten on it. You wrote things! That is amazing. Celebrate even the smallest wins. You deserve it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.