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  • Cate Butler Ross

The 7 Crucial Steps to Becoming a Writer

So you didn’t start that writing project this year like you were meant to. In fact, that beautiful notepad you bought for penning that bestseller is probably as box fresh as the running shoes I bought myself back in 2020…. Yes, I know what it’s like to really, really want to do something, but for it to still feel too hard.

I may not be very good at the whole ‘doing exercise’ thing, but one thing I do know is that the reason you’re not writing is kind of for the same reason. It’s not because you’re too busy, or that you have nothing to write about, or that it’s just not the right time. The reason you’re not writing is because you’re waiting for the muse, for that spark - and if you keep on like that, you’re never going to be a writer.

Here’s a little truth bomb for you: the muse is not a trustworthy and steadfast co-creator you can depend on - the muse is more like a contrary fairy.

Think Tinkerbell from Peter Pan – fawning all over you when really you’ve got more pressing things to do; skulking in a corner pretending she can’t hear you when you actually need her help.

That’s why waiting around for the muse, AKA inspiration to strike, is a bit like me waiting around for Joe Wickes to knock on my door to see if I fancy a run. And that’s why your blog, your book, your weekly newsletter or whatever writing project it is that you’re burning to get off the ground, keeps stalling.

There is a way around it though; a technique that doesn’t wait for the muse, but rather charms her. And it’s what every single writer does every single day. And you can do it too, in just seven simple steps.

Step 1. Set a designated time and place devoted just to your writing. Commit to it. Make it a non-negotiable appointment; like cleaning your teeth every morning or putting the bins out on Thursdays. 

Step 2. On the designated day and time get out your writing tools and set to work. Not feeling inspired? Got a headache? A bit of work that you really should be finishing off instead? Too bad. You’ve made this commitment to writing, and this is one promise you have to keep to yourself. Set the timer, grab a hot water bottle or a large cup of coffee, whatever you need to push on through; put your fingers on the keyboard or the pen to the paper, and start writing.

If you’re stuck, anything will do at first. You can write about the weather or what you had for breakfast - the rule is you keep your pen moving and the words flowing, because (here’s the trick), you’ve got to let old Tinks know that you’re doing this thing with or without her.

Step 3. And it will feel hard. Like the first few steps of a 10K run in fact. But you push on through, because you want to do this and you know that no one else is going to do it for you. It won’t feel any easier later, or tomorrow, or next week. Not even when the kids leave home. So you might as well do it now. Because now is the only time there is to write.

Step 4. And as you persevere and keep on writing, slowly something will change in the air (the Muse’s curiosity has finally got the better of her), and suddenly the words start coming more easily, even faster than you can think them. And your fingers take on a life of their own.

Step 5. And when the timer goes off, you have pages and pages of words, half of which you can barely remember writing.

Step 6. And the next time the designated hour rolls around, you quickly go to look back at what you wrote thinking it’s probably all rubbish… but actually… Did you really write that?

Because there are patterns and connections in the thoughts and ideas that you hadn’t seen before; original stories and anecdotes and analogies have sprung up all over the page like mushrooms; and amidst all the waffle and the broken sentences, there is gold.

Step 7. And, so even though you don’t feel very inspired today. You once again put your pen to the paper, fingers to the keyboard, and start writing.

That’s how you get your writing projects started. That’s how you get your writing projects finished. And that’s how you charm the muse.


Cate Butler Ross is a writer and writing coach who helps light leaders share their message and their stories through content with a heartbeat. Your can sign-up to receive weekly stories and inspiration direct to your inbox at 



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