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When I took my first writing class in college, I was an engineering major. My peers had already written full-length novels, and I felt like an imposter. I didn’t have any experience with writing, instead, I was there to try something new. Eventually, I fell in love with writing and even changed my major, but I still felt behind. 

One way or another, I think this sentiment is common among writers. As we compare ourselves to the authors we love, we believe we lack the skills that make them great. However, we’re not that different from authors we admire. In this article, I’ll provide some tips to help you become a successful writer, no matter where you’re starting. 

Step 1: Find Inspiration from Other Successful Writers

In his craft book, Refuse to Be Done, Matt Bell highlights the importance of artistic time and lived time when working on writing projects. 

Artistic time is achieved by consuming as much art as possible in various genres. As you expose yourself to new techniques and ideas via these art mediums, you’ll have opportunities to mirror them in your writing and perfect them. 

You never know where you could find inspiration—a movie, a comic strip, an album or a fine art gallery might start the artistic spark you’re needing

Secondly, Bell mentions lived time. Sometimes, when a project isn’t working how you want it to, put that project on the shelf for a while, seek artistic inspiration, or start on something new. Time away can give perspective to your writing that will make things clear that weren’t before.

Step 2: Practice, Practice, Practice

These tips may seem basic, but they’re considered the fundamentals for a reason. No matter where you are in your writing career, even successful writers benefit from practicing the basics. The best way to learn how to write better is to write! Putting yourself in new situations artistically is a great way to get started.

Try writing in a genre you haven’t written in before; try a new point of view; try looking through a list of rhetorical devices and write a paragraph using each one. Writing practices like these are low-stakes exercises. They can push your mind to get out of your comfort zone, which will inevitably help you refine your craft and become a more versatile writer. 

Additionally, there are many craft books and exercises available online and in print. These resources can help get your juices flowing and help you on your journey of becoming a successful writer. Some authors, Matt Bell included, send out weekly newsletters with practice prompts for you to try.

Step 3: Stay Motivated

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other writers, but your voice is unique and warrants being heard. The staff at Inscape want to hear your voice. Don’t ever quit writing, and submit to our journal.

When doubtful thoughts begin to creep in, remember there are plenty of authors who started later in life, and literature wouldn’t be the same without them. I grew up reading Mark Twain and J.R.R. Tolkein, both of whom weren’t published until later in life and I couldn’t imagine my childhood without them. You could be that author for someone else.  

Step 4: Seek Feedback

Sharing your work with others can be intimidating, but it’s an invaluable part of becoming a successful writer and improving your work. 

Commonly referred to as Alpha readers, reviewers can point out confusing areas in your pieces, words they don’t understand, or phrases that seem clunky. Seeing how other people experience your words gives you essential insights and allows you to refine your writing.

If you have a writing group to review with, that’s an awesome place to receive feedback. Reviewers can also be family members and friends who are willing to help you refine your craft as you become a successful writer. 

Step 5: Put Yourself Out There by Submitting to Inscape

At Inscape, we’re an undergraduate, student-run literary journal ready to accept pieces from any type of genre—from non-fiction to poetry to art, we love publishing both peculiar and gorgeous works. 

Our rolling submissions are a great way for you to receive feedback. We read every submission carefully; we’re especially eager to read what you have to say and wish you the best on your journey to become a successful writer. Implement these tips and submit your work to Inscape today! 

—Makenna Allred, Inscape