If you tell someone you’re a writer, you probably get two questions.
- What do you write?
- Have you been published?
The second question implies that you need to be published to call yourself a writer. Not so. I guarantee that you cannot be published unless you’re a writer first.
Obviously being published helps validate your writing, but how many stories are there about manuscripts that were discovered and published after a writer’s death? Would you claim the writer wasn’t a writer in his/her lifetime? I think not.
So, what can you do to consider yourself a writer? Here are some thoughts.
- Write every day. Schedule the time to write if you must, but spend some time every day on your writing.
- Define what counts as writing. Writers do research, for example. Research involves actually doing a task, then using that experience in a scene; interviewing people; reading; web searches; observation; taking a class; etc. If, in all honesty, you’re doing research connected to your writing, count it as part of your writing process.
- Give yourself credit for having your own writing style. Too many new writers stop trying because they think they need to write like Hemingway or Stephen King or Danielle Steele. Avoid the trap of thinking you have to match another writer’s technical ability or style to consider yourself a writer.
- Be persistent. An old joke says, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Response: “Practice, practice, practice.” Or, as I tell my writing students, “For the most part, he who practices doesn’t get worse.” Practice requires persistence.
- Keep writing issues in perspective. Some good writers won’t give themselves a break because they think they don’t have enough education or can’t spell or don’t know grammar well. But writing is both art and skill. Art comes naturally and skill can be learned and practiced. If you need more education, go get it. If you can’t spell or don’t know grammar well, your word processor will help with its built-in tools and you can always hire an editor.
- Take yourself seriously as a writer. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect others to?
I hope these ideas help you become your own biggest fan as you continue your writing journey.