When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a writer.
Books inspired me to tell stories and to continue reading as much as I could. Magazine and newspaper articles compelled me to start writing short-form narratives.
Throughout college I kept a journal, writing every single day and continuing a voracious habit of reading.
I had thought that, in order to become a writer, it would take years and years of practice, and I would have to jump through hoops to land some low-level job at a local newspaper or online publication.
The moment that changed my life was when I started my own blog and began writing for free.
I’ll say it again: I wrote for free. But the thing is, I was writing high-quality and thoughtful work. Long-form articles, short stories, travel pieces, self-help articles — I was writing an article or two a week.
I did this for over a year and then, almost accidentally, I had a portfolio of 60 articles and an established platform to call my own.
Without making or spending a single penny, I became a writer by my own volition.
This led to me earning a position as an editor and writer at a publication. I was being paid to write full-time and work as a journalist.
And it all came from starting a blog and building a veritable portfolio of writing — all for free.
The lesson here? Prove and provide your value first, then the rewards and validation will follow.
I was writing for a year before someone else decided to pay me for my work. But that should not be a surprise — I had to put leg work behind my passion of writing in order to refine my skills.
Thousands of hours backed up my craft as a writer and this is what afforded me the skill, mindset, and practice.
I learned to put in the work, day after day and week after week, in spite of earning zero money.
This time was an investment in myself.
I invested all my efforts into becoming a better writer and it paid off, albeit not immediately.
My blog audience grew and grew as my writing abilities improved. I worked to improve just a small, tiny bit every single day.
Then the job offer became the validation I did not know I was seeking: someone in the outside world was telling me that the work I had put in was worth it.
The next lesson here is key: hard work does not always pay off immediately.
Usually it takes a great deal of time to begin reaping the rewards of your own efforts. For me it was about 13 months of writing every single day for hours before I saw the real-world kickback of a job.
But this is why the formula to success is actually more simple than we may think.
Most people will work hard for only a short while, then they stop because they do not see reward immediately.
Even after I was hired as a full-time writer, I continued writing on my blog. I wrote articles every single week that I was not getting paid for.
Then, after another year, I compiled and reworked my writings all into a book that became one of Amazon’s bestselling travel writing books.
All that time, effort, and investment of writing day after day for free has paid off — at this point, it’s been a journey of over three years.
In short — those who do put in the work and also continue longer than short-term will be the ones who reap the largest rewards.
Put in the work every single day. Then, don’t stop. This is how to become a writer.