4 Ways a Storyteller Learned to Write

This guest post is by Matthew Turner. If you would like to win a digital copy of his romantic drama Beyond Parallel, be sure to leave a comment!

I’m a hack, a fake, a silly little dreamer! I have no right calling myself an author!

This is what goes through my mind on a daily basis. I’m no writer, just a marketer who happens to share stories. I’ve always loved being creative. I adore creating something from nothing, crafting a tale, and turning the bland into an excitable journey. I would say I’m a decent storyteller, but a writer . . . hmm, I’m not too sure.

A Writer Who Can’t Write

The last time I took a writing class was when I was sixteen years old. To give you an idea of my strengths and weaknesses, I received an A for my English Literature Class, but only a C for English Language. Like I say, I love being creative, but when it comes to analyzing and understanding what lays beneath the surface . . . less so.

Grammar . . . show vs. tell . . . punctuation and structure . . . these were all skills I had to teach myself when writing Beyond Parallel. I’m by no means at the top of my game, and I have a great deal to learn, but I’ve managed to take my novice mind and transform it into one that understands—slightly—the world of writing.

This Is How I Learned to Write

Everyone has a book in him, that’s what they say, right?

Everyone also has his own opinion as to what does and doesn’t make a good writer. I don’t want to start a heated debate, but I believe almost anyone can write—so long as they have something to share.

One thing I’ve discovered is that writing is no easy feat. It takes hours and hours of useless words before discovering anything resembling the right ones. With that in mind, here are four aspects that have helped me go from storyteller to writer:

1. Online Communities

My first tip is to join one or two communities full of writers of varying types and stages. The amazing part of the online world is the means to connect and share—and guess what, it’s full of
amazing folk!

Head to Google and start searching for writing communities. There are many to choose from, and you may have to kiss a few frogs before finding your prince. But the perfect community is waiting for you. If you find it, your writing will transform into something fantastic.

2. Read a Lot

I didn’t read nearly as much as I should have done growing up. I regret it wholeheartedly! I suggest you up your reading vocabulary to intense levels and devour as much as you can. It’s not all about quantity, but range.

Don’t stop at one genre, instead unearth everything you can. Join Goodreads Book Clubs or local book clubs, or ask your friends to recommend something . . . anything. Read the good and the bad and the weird and strange. Be open to anything and take in as much of it as possible.

3. Hire an Editor

I learned a great deal reading articles online, but it wasn’t until I worked with a professional editor that my skills began to mature. The next stop on my list is to find a local mentor who can work with you one-on-one, face to face, red ink and all.

Reading blogs and forums is great, but it isn’t until you hire someone to rip apart your baby that things click into place. It hasn’t been cheap, but it’s by far the best investment I’ve made in my writing.

4. Get Writing

Start a blog, write non-fiction, guest post, take part in short story competitions, or start a journal. Whatever you choose to do, write it down and do it often!

It’s rare that a day goes by in which I don’t write. It’s amazing the progress I’ve made. As well as becoming a better writer, I’ve learned what it means to be writer. It isn’t easy, and you quickly discover how to motivate yourself and push forward.

You Can Become an Author Too

Self-publishing has made it easier for people to live the dream and write their own books. This means a whole new generation of writers is being thrust into the world today. Some will have been born to write, but others will have discovered it along the way.

You could be one of them.

You need to work hard, you need to keep trying, and you need to push yourself through the self-doubt and insecurities. I still finished my debut novel Beyond Parallel, and I’ve already begun novel number two. I have a long way to go before I can call myself a writer at his peak, but I’m loving the journey. Will you join me?

About the Author: Matthew Turner is a writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel Beyond Parallel is out now, and if you like coming-of-age tales, it’s the perfect book for you. In the same mold as Sliding DoorsBeyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. Grab yourself a copy and be part of an emotional roller coaster that everyone can relate to.

Tell me your opinion: What writing insecurities do you face, and how do you push through them?

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Good post. I recently wrote a post on “The Uncalling” that covers basically the same thing of why I felt like I wasn’t “called” to be a writer in this life. I stumbled into writing out of anger, and lack of information.

  2. One of my own insecurities, is in that I’m wanting to write a military science fiction novel, and I don’t want to come across as patriotic or anti-war, but rather like military non tabloid journalism. How to depict dwindling morale without being anti-war.

  3. I never know enough.

    I write about a lot of things that I don’t actually have any experience with because I write fantasy. I don’t wear the cloths I write about, I don’t sail ships, I don’t swing a sword, I don’t…the list is endless.

    You’re point about reading a lot helps with this insecurity. That and research, research, research. If I can get hands on, visual research, the better. And then I write the draft and hand it to someone who does sail, or whatever the scene’s about. If it doesn’t ring true, I ask why and try again. Can’t emphasis this enough. Try again…keep writing…don’t give up.

    Great post, Matthew. It’s always encouraging to know the insecurities are not unusual for others.

  4. Great input. The best way to become a great writer,is to always consider yourself a beginner. When you become complacent in your own expertise, you lose not only humility but motivation and advancement. We should always be looking for ways to improve, and these tips are essential. asateenwriter.blogspot.com

  5. Thanks for sharing with us today, Matthew!

  6. I have been writing novels and plays for more than 20 years and still have the tortured days of demons whispering in my ear. I don’t believe it will ever go away, but it keeps me determined to thrive and improve!

  7. Insecurities? Do you have a psychiatrist’s couch, a box of Kleenex and a few days?

    Not good enough. Just good enough. Too much. Too little.


    I take heart from what you’ve written. I’ll check out writing communities and I guess at the end of the day you just need to sit down and write. That bit is pretty important.

    Nice piece.

  8. Insecurities? Do you have a psychiatrist’s couch, a box of Kleenex and a few days?

    Not good enough. Just good enough. Too much. Too little.


    I take heart from what you’ve written. I’ll check out writing communities and I guess at the end of the day you just need to sit down and write. That bit is pretty important.

    Nice piece.

  9. I have the opposite problem as you. I know all the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of the English language. I know good literature when I read it, because I read a lot. So, I recognize pretty quickly when my own writing isn’t that good. Worse, I freeze up just thinking that my writing will never be as good as, say, The Book Thief. I have a hard time shutting off my inner editor long enough for me to get the words on the page.

    I love your tips, and I’ll have to try them out!

  10. Research. I never know if what I’m researching is right, how to properly integrate it into my story without banging people over the head with facts, if I know enough, etc.

  11. Thanks for all the comments everyone. It’s great to hear that I’m not alone, but like the general consensus seems to be, we get through these days and battle on.

    It makes it all the more sweeter, don’t you think?

    Thanks for letting me be part of this. I think it’s a great aspect of being a writer. And like Karoline says, we should always keep learning. Once we think we’ve made it bad things will bound to happen 🙂


  12. The toughest obstacle I faced when starting my “career” was that one of my older brothers was already an author, and had written a fair number of stories. So I had to prove that I could do as good as he did, and even better.

    Also, living out on in the country, my major critics were family members. Not to complain or anything, but they just didn’t really appreciate my passion for writing.
    I managed to bypass this by posting my stories in a few online communities for authors or aspiring authors.

    Now, my biggest insecurity is fear that I don’t have enough details to make the story REAL. I haven’t yet learned how to master this fear, so instead, I try to push on despite it. Which, admittedly, has ruined a couple stories…

    Thanks for the tips, Matthew, I’ll try to implement them in my future work.

  13. Gideon: this must be hard, but good for you on pushing through. We all have our demons, but it’s good to see you aren’t letting them stop you from doing what you love


  14. My insecurities usually are my bouts of self-pity. Whenever I think about the kind of writing life I want and compare it with my own. 🙁
    But thank God it only happens on some rare occasions. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am in my WIP. But, my debut novel is yet to come….

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