You (I) don’t.
Simple as that.
Rather, you discover that you are a storyteller and that writing happens to be your medium of expression. It could have just as easily been filmmaking. Or painting. Or sculpture, drawing, photography, landscape design, interior design, animation, etcetera. Point being: writers/writing is only one aspect of storytelling, and on that must be discovered.
My discovery was not so simple, and took two decades to uncover.
In my younger years I thought I hated stories. More precisely, I thought I hated books, because I disdained reading. From Shakespeare to Steinbeck to Salinger to McCarthy, everything given me in school I found boring and useless. On the other hand, I loved movies, the greatest being The Goonies, followed closely by Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I watched those movies hundreds of times. During those years it made sense to me that books were boring and movies we awesome, because movies involved no reading. Not until college did I understand the truth.
In 2003 I got accept to BYU-Provo to study Chemical Engineering, before I even graduated High School. I was and am a Scientist at heart. My High School career filled with AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, Physics, Drafting; all the Science and Math the school offered (except Statistics, because that is a waste of time). Once in college, my first semester I changed to Mechanical Engineering, because deep down I wanted to be an architect, but BYU had no Architectural program. I assumed the two were similar enough that somehow it would work out. After a semester of ProE computer drafting and tedious tolerance mathematics, ME was not for me. Simultaneously, I was teaching myself 3DS Max—a computer animation program I acquired from my brother (who was trying to start his own animation company). When I knew ME was out, I tried my hand at the Animation program. Turns out you have to be able to draw well to get into that program. Which I can’t.
A year’s worth of schooling and still no direction. I changed to Film, thinking that I could still follow my architecture dream and do Production Design. And my love for movies as a child had only grown. Once in the program, I learned that BYU didn’t have a Production Design emphasis for the Film program. Semester three: gone. So I changed again, now to Theatre Design, which was just Production Design for the stage. I also took a Creative Writing class during that semester (a series of events occurred while preparing for college that got me to think I could write a fantasy novel series, but that’s another story entirely).
At the end of semester four: I was lined up to design a production of The Jungle Book that would tour Utah Valley High Schools, and research for the novel was at the highest it would ever reach.
Then it was decided to move back to California, because Utah was not the place for me and my wife. I applied to California State University, Sacramento, the only University near our apartment in Orangevale. Turns out they didn’t have a Production Design major, let alone a Film program at all. So as a matter of circumstance I ended up in English. I figured, I liked that Creative Writing class, and it turned out I was decent at writing, and I had started to like books, and there weren’t a whole lot of options left. I’d already said goodbye to Math and Science as a major, which only left the Arts and Humanities.
Now, almost eight years later, a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Creative Writing under my belt, I love reading books, because I was exposed to authors and stories and ideas that interested me, and I loved writing. It took six majors and two years of college, on top of my already 13 years of pre-college schooling, to find that my love for movies was a love for storytelling.
But that is all just one man’s story. I’ve come to find that many have similar experiences, that writing is something that found them, that grew inside them without their knowing, that writing is just their medium of storytelling, that it’s not about being a writer but about getting down those stories that must be told, those stories that circulate your blood and makes your skin grow.
I assume most look at the title of this and think, “How I become a writer is grammatically incorrect, so why add that ‘I’ in parenthesis?” Because: I am not a writer. Calling myself a ‘writer’ implies that I have arrived somewhere, that I am complete and need not press on any further. Which could not be farther from the truth. The title ‘writer’ is a misnomer, because writing is not something that can be achieved; writing is a verb, it is an action, and an incomplete action at that.
You are never really a writer, regardless of your professional status. You are either writing, or not writing, simple as that.
So go write.
Be writing, not a writer.