This is the question that had me awake at 4am this morning…thanks brain!
Considering that I’m writing this blog post, the question is pretty much redundant…or is it?
I used my time awake at 4am to scroll through my Twitter feed and I came across a tweet from @sj_penner:
This tweet got me thinking, why is it so difficult for some of us to say that we are writers? Why is it a challenge to state something that we do?
It probably doesn’t help that there are multiple definitions of ‘Writer’:
Dictionary.com: “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.”
Oxford Dictionaries: “A person who has written something or who writes in a particular way.”
Collins: “A writer is a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job.”
Cambridge: “a person who writes books or articles to be published”
Merriam-Webster: “one that writes”
Some of these definitions feed the belief that you need to be published to be a writer, that you need to make money from your writing to be a writer. Then comes the debate of whether being a writer has something to do with skill or talent. Are you only a writer if you’re good?
I’ve come to realise that I don’t tend to call myself a writer (unless I’m having a confident day!), but I tell people I write…or as I usually put it, I try to write.
I say it almost fearfully, worried about what people might think. I often then back it up with details of taking part of NaNoWriMo, I explain how I do it for myself, I’m not any good at it…but that maybe one day I might self publish it just to see what happens. I also have a fear of writing under my own name. I tell myself it’s because my name doesn’t sound that exciting, but if I’m being honest, it’s to protect myself.
It’s only really with close friends and people who know me well that I can say aloud that I have dreams to write novels, I want to finish my novels, I want to see them published and in print, I want people to read them, and I hope people will love them. Would I love to make money from my writing? Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.
The other thing that often has me questioning if I’m a writer is that even though I have dreams to publish my novels, they aren’t my only dreams.
I follow a lot of writers on Twitter and social media, I also read a lot of articles and blogs aimed at writers. One piece of advice I keep seeing over and over again is to keep writing, write every day, when you’re not writing, edit, when you’re not editing, read. That is how you become a writer.
The truth is, writing isn’t all I think about, I also think about the life I want, food, travel, running, training. Honestly, I can go weeks without writing and months without reading fiction – does this make me less of a writer?
I suppose it all comes down to confidence. Stating you’re a writer opens yourself up to questions, but also possibilities.
I’ve decided I’m going to stick with the simplicity of the Merriam-Webster definition:
“one that writes”
By that definition, the very act of writing this blog post makes me a writer. It does not matter that I have a 9-5 job, it does not matter that I don’t write every day, and it does not matter that I haven’t made any money from my writing.
Am I a writer? Yes, I am.