What if one word can make the difference between thinking about writing a book and actually writing one? What is this word? It's the simple word become.
The word become means to come into existence, or to undergo change or development so that you turn into something other than what you are right now.
The simple word become is a powerful clue about how to change from wanting to become an author into someone who actually is an author.
Simply stated, the answer to the question, "How do I become an author?" is that you become an author by writing.
Choosing to Become an Author
Author is an identity that you choose for yourself. You choose to call yourself an author and then you do what authors do. You write.
Does this sound like playing word games to you? How can making this distinction help you write books? This distinction makes a difference because it means that you are the one who decides whether or not you will become an author.
Becoming an author has nothing to do with anyone else except you. No one is going to show up at your front door and give you an official document that you are now allowed to write a book. You won't get an engraved certificate in the mail granting you permission to become an author.
Becoming an author is not like applying for a job. You don't have to fill out any application forms. You don't have to give anyone a resume. You don't have to wait for someone to hire you.
Becoming an author is not like joining a club or fraternity or sorority. You don't have to be approved for membership. No one can block your admission. There's no secret password you need to know. There's no secret guild that will let allow you to join the ranks of authors.
All you need is your own decision. If you want to become an author, become an author. How do you do that? You start writing your book.
What If You Don't Know How to Write a Book?
But what if you don't know how to write a book? What if you don't know where to start? What if everything you write is terrible?
Here are some words of advice for anyone who has dreamed of writing a book and doesn't know how.
Start writing your book and expect that what you write is somewhere between terrible and not very good.
Starting to write a book is not like getting a driver's license, where you have to take a test and prove that you can drive. If you want to write a book, start writing your book. Surely you have heard of the old proverb, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
It's the same with a book. Write the first word. Write the first sentence. Write the first paragraph. Write the first chapter. Write the entire first draft. Expect that your first draft will be bad. This is how you become an author. You jump in and do it.
The Freedom to Begin Writing Your Book
What does all of this mean? It means that you don't have to wait for permission to become an author and you don't have to know much about writing a book to start writing a book. When you decide to become an author, you have the freedom to sit down and write a terrible first draft. Do you realize what a burden that will take off your shoulders? You don't have to write a good book at first. No one does. Give yourself permission to write a bad first draft and then write it. You can't fix a book that doesn't exist. Write the book. Then you can fix it.
Have you ever heard the old "sink or swim" adage. Merriam-Webster defines it this way:
...used to refer to a situation in which someone either must succeed by his or her own efforts or fail completely
Starting to write a book is not a "do or die" situation. You start and you learn how. When you decide to become an author—if you are serious about it—you will never stop learning how to be better at your craft. But you aren't going to start out as an expert writer. A toddler is not going to run a marathon and you aren't going to write a bestseller in your first draft. You don't even have to jump in. You can start by wading in. You learn to write by writing.
The liberating point in all of this is that knowing how to become an author is not the same as knowing how to write a great book. You have the rest of your life to learn how to write outstanding books. You become an author when you decide to become an author and take your first small steps to write your book.