I have over 200 publications, 9 awards, and have taught fiction writing since 1992. Based on my experience with over 1000 students, here is my abridged list of what you need to become a writer:
Writing takes time. To be a writer, you are going to have to give up something. I gave up television and the gym. The latter is obvious.
2. A room to write.
Virginia Woolf said: A woman needs money and a room of her own in order to write. EVERYONE needs a room, or a place to write. Preferably with a door to close out the rest of the world. Especially if you have kids. I wrote in the bathroom for years.
3. Supportive friends.
Eliminate all people you can from your life who are negative influences on your writing. The ones who think you will never make it. The ones who think it’s a ‘cute’ hobby. The ones who look down upon the genre in which you write. Do it now. This minute. Become friends with other writers who share your passion.
I nearly said passion, but really, they are the same thing. To be a writer, you have to actually love to WRITE. That is, bum in the chair, by yourself, hitting the keyboard, in a world of your own making. Too many people want to become authors, but don’t actually like the physical work of writing. Figure out whether you do right now.
5. The Craft.
If you want to write a novel, take a course in crafting a novel. If you want to write short stories, ditto. You’ll learn a lot really quick, and it will cut years off your apprenticeship. Not only that, you’ll make friendships with like minds who will inspire and encourage you.
Yes, you need talent. By that, I mean you need plot ideas of your very own. I can teach you the craft of writing in my college fiction writing classes. But you also need to have the sort of brain that is producing ideas all the time. Successful fiction writers don’t have to look for ideas. They are drowning in them.
7. A Thick Hide.
All writers deal with massive amounts of rejection. Even when you strike gold and get a publisher, you will deal with rejection in the form of bad reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. None of us escape that. All of us need to develop a thick hide to survive as authors.
Luckily, I have developed a thicker hide. It comes from skipping the gym and gaining weight.