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Hi! I'm Joe, and I'm a writer.

The 5 Things You Need to Become a Writer (or Anything)

published6 months ago
2 min read

Hey Reader,

Everyone thinks great writers are born talented. You either have what it takes to write a great book, or you don't. You either become successful, or you struggle and never break through.

But the truth is great writers are made.

Not by school or by luck.

Great writer are made through deliberate practice.

I was at a conference in Chicago a few years ago and got into a conversation with the organizer. When I told him that I had started a website to train writers called The Write Practice, he smirked.

"The biggest thing people need to learn," he said, "is that most people can't write."

Alright then.

Just a few hours after that I met a New York Times bestselling novelist. I asked him how long it took him to find his voice and write a great book.

"Four or five books," he told me.

Four or five books of practice before he reached his potential as a writer.

The organizer had never broken through as a writer, despite working on a few projects. The bestselling author, on the other hand, didn't stop writing until he broke through.

If you want to become a writer, get published, and become successful, you need to practice deliberately. But what is deliberate practice?

Deliberate practice has five criteria.

  1. Theory. You have to learn the craft, things like structure, POV, and style.
  2. Practice. You have to put it to practice, doing the work, and finishing writing pieces.
  3. Coach. You need a coach, someone who can hold you accountable to finishing and help you navigate the process and industry.
  4. Feedback. You need feedback, both from editors and other writers, about what's working and not working in your writing.
  5. Community. Finally, you need a community to encourage you, support you, and that you can learn from.

It's not talent that makes you a great writer. It's theory, practice, a coach, feedback, and a community.

It's deliberate practice.

And it always has been, from Jane Austen to Hemingway to Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood. All of them engaged in these five things.

And you? Are you practicing deliberately? Or are you relying on talent? Hit reply and let me know!

This Week in Photos

It has been more than a month since my last newsletter, a delay caused mostly by the kids being out of school and complicated by Covid (somehow I escaped it, but my parents and one of my sons weren't as lucky—everyone is ok though). Now that my kids are back in school though, we should slowly return to our weekly-ish cadence, fingers crossed!

Alright folks, that's it from me. Have a great weekend, and see you soon.

Joe