Being a Writer is Like Being a Dead Person

Image by Misha Gerrick

I’m a writing blogger. As in, I blog about writing, about how to write, and how much of a pain in the butt writing can sometimes be. So, you can say I’m well entrenched in the online writing community. I’ve had to do with some awesome discovered writers, undiscovered writers, new writers, old writers and everything in between.

I am, you might be surprised to know, an old writer at 26. I’ve been a writer since the age of 13. Before that, I was a poet. (I had my first poem published when I was eight.) Of course, there are older writers than me, but most of them don’t blog. All this is to say that when it comes to this subject, I think you can take me on my word.

This is important to know, because I’m tackling something I see a lot, but that I wish people would stop saying.

Please know that I’m writing this with all the love in my heart, and I have a very good reason for it.

Ready?

Brace yourself.

Okay.

I find that one of the saddest things I can read on someone’s bio is that they’re “An aspiring writer.”

See… being a writer isn’t a vocation. It’s a state of being. It’s like being a dead person. You’re either dead, or you’re not. Just so, you’re either a writer, or you’re not. There is no aspirational stage to being a writer. Saying that you are “aspiring” only tells me that you’re not owning who you are, or not a writer at all.

Because writing is a part of writers. Those of us who are writers can’t stop writing any more than we can happily amputate our heads. We’re writers. Writers need to write for some reason. (Which isn’t to say we write every day with a song in our hearts and with bountiful inspiration, but that’s a topic for another article.)

If we stop writing regularly, we stop being writers.

If we write for the sake of writing, then writers we become by default.

Let me explain this a bit more. People can write thousands of e-mails a day for their job, but not be writers because they’re writing for the sake of their job. Those same people are writers if they go home and write a story, or write a blog, an article, or anything else simply for the love of it.

It’s the act of creative expression that makes us writers. Even when the form of this expression is non-fiction, or 100 word stories. Even if you feel like the words you’ve written are nothing more than pathetic drivel that an eight year old child could have come up with. You’re still a writer. One with self-confidence issues, perhaps, but a writer all the same.

Not owning the fact might come between you and remaining a writer, though. It creates a space in your soul where your doubts and insecurities can take hold and trust me, we have enough of those even if we’ve acknowledged ourselves for what we are. The main thing you need to worry about is this nagging thought that will haunt your steps until you see things my way: I’m not even a real writer. Why am I even bothering?

If you are an “aspiring writer”, I’d like for you to take a look at yourselves and answer these questions:

1) What would make you a real writer?

Finishing a novel? Nope. That makes you a novelist.

Getting an agent? Nope. Just makes you an author with an agent.

Getting published? Makes you a published author.

Making enough money to not do anything else? Oh honey, if that’s what you’re waiting for, you’ve got bigger worries.

2) Why are you writing?

Because you love telling stories? Even if you don’t think anyone else will read them!

Because you use writing as a catharsis?

Because you enjoy reading stories and want to give creating one a whirl?

3) When you’re doing something else, are you spending at least some portion of your thoughts on what you want to write later?

If you answered yes to any of the questions under (1), you’re never going to feel like a real writer unless you get your motivations right. Trust me. No amount of external validation will ever make you believe in yourself.

If you answered yes to any of the questions under (2) and (3), congrats. You're a writer. So start calling yourself one.

You need to believe in yourself right now. Trust in your reasons for writing. Trust in the fact that you’re passionate about your idea at the very least, and about writing in general at most. This, the fact that you’re so passionate that you’re actively writing words down, is what makes you a writer. You don’t need someone else’s permission to call yourself one. You are one already. Even if you don’t finish this novel. Or you never get an agent. Or never publish a thing. Or never sell a single copy of your work.

If you write for the love of it, it’s all you need to be a writer.

So embrace it! Call yourself a writer, because that’s what you are.

Now go write.