This piece originally appeared on the ACFW blog on June 7, 2016.
Are you a writer? If you answered yes, do you believe, deep down inside, that you are indeed a writer?
Too many times, we say we’re writers but our actions say another thing. For example, you meet someone for the first time and are asked what you do. Do you…
- Say you’re a writer?
- Say you’re a writer but________________(haven’t been published, don’t have an agent, aren’t as good as X author, or whatever other qualifiers that negate the statement).
If you write—published or not, paid or not—you’re a writer. Period. No qualifiers, no excuses. I know it’s scary to call yourself a writer when you don’t feel like a “real” writer. Proclaiming you’re a writer is the first step toward becoming a writer. Writing, like most things, is an action—it’s not passive. You can’t say you write if you actually don’t, um, write.
Calling yourself a writer means you have something to live up to, and that’s where the actions of writing come into play. If you’re a writer, you should act like a writer by…
Taking writing seriously. So many times, writers hem and haw about their writing in conversation to others, making excuses about their lack of publishing success or their small publishing numbers. Stop. Just stop dithering and say with confidence, “I am a writer.”
Carving time to write. Writers who are serious about writing make time to write and guard that time jealously. That means that you should turn off your phone, close your email, and concentrate on putting words on the page during the time you’ve scheduled for writing. And it also means giving yourself permission to say no to those who request pieces of your writing time for other, worthy things. Yes, sometimes, life dictates a detour from writing, but writers should have a plan on getting back on track.
Honing your writing craft. Take writing classes, both in-person and online. Join writing groups like ACFW. Be active in smaller groups, like online critique cells or local chapters. Pass along your knowledge to other writers. All of these things help make us better writers.
Being open to criticism. Whether from an agent, editor, contest judge or critique partner, we need to be able to read criticism, not as a slap down of our writing ability, but as part of the process toward making our writing better. Remember, no writer is perfect!
Reading books. Read your genre and read other genres. Read fiction and nonfiction. Read books that challenge you as a writer. Reading other authors exposes us to new ideas and thoughts, as well as help us see where the market is heading.
Encouraging other writers. Whether through leaving a comment on a blog, emailing an author directly or having a face-to-face conversation, encouraging other writers in their journey is good for you as a writer. Focusing on other writers can also be a great antidote to being pessimistic about our own writing status.
Repeat after me: I’m a writer. Now go forth and write!