How Long Does It Take To Become a Writer? (SOLVED)

If you want to be a writer, you’re probably wondering how long it will take.

How long does it take to become a writer?

It takes an average of 5 years to become a writer. For most professional writers, it takes 4-5 years of college. It often takes 3-5 years to write, edit, and publish a marketable book or screenplay. It takes most bloggers 2-4 years to make a full-time living from blogging.

In this article, I’ll share how long it takes to become 11 different types of writers and three personally-tested methods you can use to get there sooner.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Writer (Table With Timelines)

Let’s put this information in a simple table.

Remember, these are averages based on national data, company hiring requirements, and educational timelines. After we briefly talk about each type of writer in this article, I’m going to share with you how to get there even faster.

Some of these strategies can shave years off of your learning curve.

Type of WriterHow Long Does It Take To Become a Writer
Freelance Writer2-4 years
Nonfiction Author3-5 years
Novelist3-5 years
Blogger2-4 years
Screenwriter/TV Writer3-5 years
Technical Writer4-5 years
Copywriter4-5 years
Grant Writer4-5 years
Video Game Writer3-5 years
Resume Writer4-5 years
Policy Writer8-10 years
How long does it take to become a writer?

How Long Does It Take To Become a Freelance Writer?

It takes most freelance writers between 2-4 years to go full-time.

When I finally went full-time, it took me a year of planning and another year to acquire enough freelance clients and contracts to replace my traditional 9-5 pm career salary.

Anyone can start freelancing on the side at any time. If you simply want a part-time income from freelancing, you can start within a few days. At most, it should take you no longer than 1-2 months to acquire a few clients or contracts.

If someone freelances as a side-hustle (and wants to eventually go full time), it may take up to 3 or 4 years.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Nonfiction Author?

It takes 3-5 years to acquire experience and then write, edit, and publish a marketable nonfiction book that supports a full-time lifestyle.

Depending on the subject of the book, it could take even longer.

I say “marketable” because often a first book does not sell very well. Most nonfiction authors either spend a longer period of time crafting and marketing one book, or find success with their second, third, or fourth book.

Even if you publish with a small publisher, the process of writing and publishing your own book takes time—and it’s difficult to dedicate yourself completely to this endeavor while working a day job.

The more responsibilities you have outside of your writing career, the longer it will take to become a successful author.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Novelist?

It takes 3-5 years to become a full-time novelist.

This is not to say that, after 3-5 years, you will be an overnight success. It takes time for publishers to read a submitted manuscript and they only publish what they strongly believe people will buy.

Even if you are incredibly successful with your first book, there’s no guarantee that you will produce a series of successful books.

I don’t say this to discourage you.

Some authors score a bestseller with their first novel. Others write several novels before publishing one that hits “mid-list”—which means it makes an average amount of money.

It is also important to note that the average salary of a full-time author hovers around $49,000 per year.

Yes, there are exceptions out there—heavy hitters like Stephen King and JK Rowling make multi-millions each year—but you’ll need a similar track record before your annual income can reach six figures.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Blogger?

It often takes 2-4 years to turn blogging into a full-time career.

After taking two professional blogging courses, and building multiple websites, I can validate this timeframe.

If you build a website from scratch, you will encounter a steep learning curve for your first site. Mastering the skill of website creation, keyword research, and writing quality content takes time.

Even if you do everything right with your first site, it still often takes Google 8-12 months to fully rank your articles. People often call this the dreaded Google “sandbox.”

There are definitely ways to speed up this process (read how I did it with my second site at the end of this article).

However, for your very first site, it makes sense to plan for your blogging career to reach a full-time income in approximately two years of consistent effort.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Screenwriter?

It takes 3-5 years for most people to become professional screenwriters.

Most university screenwriting programs run for 2-3 years. You can also take in-person or online screenwriting courses that range from a few hours to a few weeks.

Writing, editing, and submitting screenplays is a time-intensive process.

It often takes screenwriters several screenplays to refine their craft, make industry connections, and break into professional screenwriting.

It is possible to become a screenwriter after only one screenplay, but it is unlikely that the script will be of high enough quality for producers or agents.

This is not a stable profession with guaranteed income and opportunity. It is important to manage your screenwriting career and finances wisely and carefully.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Technical Writer?

It generally takes between 4-5 years to become a full-time, professional technical writer.

Many employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, there are companies that also want their writers to specialize in a specific field.

For example, highly technical fields such as the automotive industry or healthcare.

I’ve worked as a technical writer for nonprofits, for-profits, and often with a medical bent. It took me several years to build my industry specialization. I would have liked to fast-track this process, but it just usually isn’t done that way.

If you are self-taught in technical writing, things may be slower for you.

That’s not to say that your work won’t be good or even great.

There is no official credentialing process in the field of technical writing. You can increase your skill set and boost your resume by earning technical writing certificates. Completing a certificate takes approximately 6 months.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Copywriter?

It takes 4-5 years to become a copywriter.

This timeframe includes completing college and gaining real-world experience, sometimes during an unpaid internship.

Some people are able to move up the ranks more quickly.

Typically, this depends on your level of creativity, passion, and motivation.

If you are just starting out in college, it is unlikely that you will be an accomplished copywriter right when you graduate.

Learning copywriting includes:

  • Understanding buyer or customer personas
  • Mastery of language
  • Researching industries
  • Crafting copy the elicites trust
  • Crafting copy that triggers emotions
  • Storytelling
  • Knowing how to measure and test copy
  • And much more

While you can learn copywriting in as few as 3-6 months, translating your skillset into a full-time income can take longer. Most copywriters take the traditional route of attending college.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Grant Writer?

It takes 3-5 years to become a professional grant writer that earns a full-time income.

Many employers require at least 2 years of grant writing education and experience in the industry. Depending on your education and experience, you can land a grant writing job in 3 years.

Grant writing involves many skills that you develop over time:

  • Organizational skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpreting confusing and conflicting guidelines
  • Managing a team of content experts, evaluators, etc.
  • Budgeting
  • Organizational design
  • And much more

Personally, I wrote grants for 10 years for a nonprofit. It took me at least three years to feel comfortable writing grants, even though I had the benefit of one-on-one mentorship with a veteran grant writer.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Video Game Writer?

The average amount of time it takes to become a video game writer is around 3-5 years, which is approximately the amount of time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Many schools offer video-game design and writing courses.

It’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about writing, storytelling, and how games are created before trying to break into the industry. Most video game companies want writers who are familiar with both writing and at least basic coding.

As you can imagine, all of this takes time.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Resume Writer?

It takes 4-5 years to become a resume writer.

Most resume writers go to school and get a degree related to career services and/or resume writing.

A number of colleges and online learning systems also offer certificate programs.

You can get certified by the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA) in five weeks, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically become a full-time professional resume writer.

You still need practical experience and a portfolio of completed resumes.

Unless you want to work for a high-production, low-pay “resume farm,” then you will probably spend months or years building your skillset and hands-on experience.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Policy Writer?

It can take 8-10 years to become a policy writer.

This is because you will probably need both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree to meet the job requirements of a potential employer.

The vast majority of policy writers work for the federal government, but some work for other public and private organizations. Either way, a deep understanding of pubic policies, associated laws, and writing is mandatory.

Companies might also hire writers for their own internal policies.

In this case, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is often required.

infographic about How Long Does It Take To Become a Writer
Infographic by the author via CanvaHow long does it take to become a resume writer?

3 Ways To Become a Writer Even Faster (Personally Tested)

Over the last 20 years, I’ve used three methods to quickly gain writing credentials, experience, and opportunity.

If I had to start over from zero with no experience, these are the three things I would do to become a writer even faster:

  1. Take a course
  2. Get a mentor
  3. Network creatively

The first method is to take a course and/or attend workshops, seminars, or conferences that feature writing.

I wasted years trying to learn to blog on my own. As soon as I took my first blogging course, I started getting results.

My all-time favorite blogging course is Passive Income Geek, which is how I learned to build multiple websites and actually earn a living from blogging.

The second method is to get a mentor.

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful mentors throughout my writing career.

Writing courses are great for learning the basics quickly, but your mentor can help you master more advanced topics that take years to learn on your own.

You can find a mentor online or locally.

Yes, you might need to pay them for their time (or work out some sort of skillset barter), but this will dramatically accelerate your writing growth.

The third method is creative networking.

Reach out to people in your industry. Don’t ask for anything right away. Build a friendly but professional relationship and offer as much value as possible. You never know who might help you get your first gig or big contract.

Final Thoughts

The time it takes you to become a writer depends on many things: your career goals, education, experience, skillset, determination, and resourcefulness.

The right tools at the right time can also help.

These are some of the tools that have helped me become a full-time writer:

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