I am taking time today to reflect on what makes a writer. “WRITER” Even the word sounds powerful. When is it appropriate to claim this title? Can you call yourself a writer only after you have become published? Is the name connected to the ability to write? Can you call yourself a writer even if you just have the desire to write?
I used to be wishy-washy on the issue. In public, I would never call myself a writer. It sounded too pretentious. In private, hanging around my friends, was another matter entirely. I would run my mouth—I was a writer. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t written a story in over a year. I had the desire to write and when I did do it, I was pretty good at it. In my eyes, that should have been enough to call myself a writer.
But… I was wrong! It wasn’t enough. You have to put in the work to claim the title.
I realized this one night when I was with my husband. We were talking about writing. I said I wanted to a published author. My husband remarked, “No, you don’t. If you wanted to write, you would be doing it.”
Needless to say, that was the kick I needed. The next day I was at the computer, typing up a story. The day after that, I started submitting my older short stories to magazines. Four months later, I was scheduled for publication.
I understand that it’s not always that easy. Life gets in the way. We get sick, go to college, have kids, take care of grandparents and parents, work 60+ hours a week and have all other sorts of distractions. I know this because I’ve lived it! I have three kids, work overtime and earned a masters degree. I know there is only 24 hours in the day. But the important thing is to decide. Am I a writer? If you are, you should take the time to write. Correction: you must take the time to write. It’s not so much about publication. It’s about words on paper.
So now, I have a much stronger identity as a writer. I can say it to friends, colleagues, job applications and strangers: I am a writer. I have no qualms about saying it because I put in the effort to be one. I insist on doing 1,000 words a day. It is my profession (well, one of them) and I make it a top priority. I lay down words, do the market research, and send out the submissions. My conclusion is I don’t believe you can call yourself a writer unless you actually produce sweat and tears to do it. My friend Maria has a painting over her desk that says, “Writers Write.” I couldn’t say it better myself.