7 Ways To Level Up As An Author

So you can go from an amateur, scribbling writer to a full-on novelist

Two women sit in a white room, typing on computres on a clutterd, coloful wooden desk.
Photo by Ivan Samkov

You may have been writing now for a few months, or even years, and want to improve your writing, get new experiences, earn recognition, and expand your writing adventures. If you have a passion for writing but don’t really know where to go with it, browse these seven ways you can level up your writing game.

7. Write Finished, Polished Pieces

When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to write a few paragraphs and pages of a short story or even a book, and then just stop and start a new story, never truly finishing anything. I was in that place for a while, getting an idea, writing maybe a couple of chapters, giving up, and repeating the process. While this is a great way to practice and grow your skills, eventually you’ll give up, because you’ll have nothing substantial to motivate you to keep going.

At least every once in a while, you should finish something, write it all, edit it thoroughly, and polish it good and shiny — so when you’re done, you know you wrote something, even if it’s as small as a 800-word short story. That doesn’t mean you have to finish everything you ever write, but that at the end of the year, you can look back at a portfolio of full, finished pieces.

6. Take Part in NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, if you haven’t heard of it, is a popular 30-day event where writers try to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month — November. It encourages and pushes writers to become novelists, and leave with at least the beginning of a full novel.

It’s a great way to gain experience writing a book, and the time limit offers pressure that isn’t as high-stakes as a something like a job deadline. NaNoWriMo also has a community of helpful, aspiring authors just like you — so you can be supported by writers in the same boat as you’re in.

5. Compete in Writing Contests

The words ‘writing contests’ might make your palms sticky and your forehead start to sweat — the thought of competing against other writers is daunting and intimidating, especially for new writers who haven’t shared their writing to anybody except for close friends and family.

However, you can gain a lot of experience, advice, and feedback from writing contests, and if you win, you could be able to get recognition and prizes too — even monetary ones. Not to mention that it’ll boost your confidence in your writing and your writing journey, motivating you to keep writing.

You can find potential writing contests using Reedsy’s writing contest catalog. Reedsy also has their own weekly writing contests with a reward of $250 and $5 entry fee for official consideration.

Even if you’re under 18(the usual writing contest age minimum), you can still legally participate in writing contests, also with money prizes. There are specific writing contests for younger writers, including The Betty Award with a grand prize of $300 and a $20 entry fee, and the Bluefire contest, with no entry cost and a grand prize of $1,000.

4. Teach Others to Write

A lot of times, even writers who consider themselves experienced and knowledgeable are faced with the true, shallow extent of their knowledge when put to the test of teaching others their skill. In essence, teaching others how to write can help educate yourself on your own strengths and weaknesses, so you can focus and improve on your craft.

You don’t have to buy a building and run a class in order to educate others on fiction writing. If you’re confident in your ability to write, you might want to consider starting a YouTube channel on poetry, or even sell an online course on how to plan and write a novel. You can also go as small as teaching a niece/nephew, or even a neighbor’s kid, how to write their first story.

A woman writes in her journal in a glass house, the walls looking out into a green forest, the table covered with potted plants.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/happy-young-ethnic-woman-writing-article-in-cozy-workplace-4350173/

3. Start a Blog

If you want a way to share your writing with the world, you can start your own blog and post your short stories, advice, personal journey, and other content that could be valuable to readers and fellow writers. You can even grow a following and become an established author online, and might attract potential agents and publishers.

To start a blog, you can quickly set up a WordPress or Wix website, maybe even buy a cheap domain name, and start writing. If you invest enough time and money into your blog, you might even be able to turn it into a profitable income source — a way to make money from your writing.

2. Get Published in Magazines/Newsletters

When most writers think about getting published, they usually think along the lines of publishing a book or a novel with something like KDP or even a publishing house. Yet, that’s not the only way you can get your writing print and get some recognition in the publishing world.

You can submit your pieces to magazines and newsletters, and potentially get published in a magazine. Getting published is also a common prize in some writing contests — and many times, along with getting recognition, you can win money if the magazine accepts your story/poem.

Some magazines you could try to get published in include The Threepenny Review, which can pay $400 for a story, or even magazines as popular and famous as The New Yorker.

1. Write and Publish A Novel on Amazon

One of the greatest things you can do as an author is to publish a book. There’s a big gap between an unpublished writer and a published novelist, and that gap can seem nearly impossible to cross. However, you don’t need to make a complicated, intense deal with a huge, intimidating publishing house in order to get your book published. You can just use Amazon.

Amazon has a great platform for authors called Kindle Direct Publishing(KDP), where you can get your book in the Amazon market in Kindle, hardcover, and paperback formats. You keep 35–70% of your royalties.

Publishing with Amazon KDP is a great way to bridge the gap between unpublished and published, and just might be the next big step in your writing journey. Take the leap, and become a published author. You won’t regret it.

Many authors aspire to be something great, to take the next big step in their writing career — but never know how. Sometimes, they do know what they should do, but never take the jump, because they’re too scared.

Don’t let that stop you. Sure, sometimes it’s really daunting to submit your story to a writing contest or magazine, or publish and share your book with the world. But if you never do it, you’re never going to become a better writer.

This is going to sound cliché, but you need to take risks in order to find success. So take those risks, those scary jumps, and make it to the others side as a better writer.

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Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

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