Did I become a real writer when I completed my first, terrible novel? Was it when I received my first rejection letter for that novel? When I won a writing contest at college? When that story was published in the school’s literary journal? Or was it when I graduated with a degree in creative writing? When I finished a second novel, and then a third? When GenZ Publishing signed me as one of their authors? Will it be when my book is finally published and goes out into the world?
Every day, I sit down at my desk—a converted kitchen table—and I try to put words on paper. Does that make me a real writer? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, because now that I’m out of school and it’s just me, sitting here every day trying to work, ninety-nine percent of the time I don’t feel like a real writer, but like someone who doesn’t want to get a real job and wants to stay home telling stories.
I know that I am very blessed. I met the man of my dreams at such a young age and he happens to have chosen a career that allows him to support both of us right out of college. Even more than that, he wants me to stay home and try to make a real career out of my writing, because he understands how important stories are and how important my writing is to me.
I’ve always dreamed of being able to do this, to make writing a full time job. And for the last couple months that I’ve done this, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I get to hang out with my puppy and work on stories and read a lot. It is my dream come true. But I still don’t feel like a real writer.
Just like most writers, there are days when I don’t get anything done. I stare, for hours sometimes, at the computer screen, but nothing comes to me. I wrote here about how hard it is to be between books, and trying to get going on a new project is definitely part of my struggle. When writing isn’t getting done, I try to read, both fiction and writing text books, or work on this blog and my other social media, so that I’m still working on something. Even though I do this, I still feel like a failure when I’m not writing anything.
But I think I’m being too harsh on myself. So many of the writing quotes or tips that I see online is that writer’s write, implying that if you’re not physically writing you’re not a writer. But I don’t think it’s as black and white as that. I think a writer is someone who commits his or her life to telling stories, whether fictional or nonfictional, and who is constantly striving toward that goal. Because there are a lot of elements to this job. Not only must you physically put words on paper, but you must study the craft, and reach out to readers through social media. And you have to read, a lot, to learn about how others write (which is my favorite kind of homework). I’m not saying to use all of this as an excuse to not write, but I just want to make the point that there is so much involved in the career of being a writer besides just writing.
So I don’t think any of the questions above is the right one to ask. I think I became a real writer when i decided that I wanted to be a real writer. Because that was when I committed to doing all of this—the writing, the reading, the studying, the being involved on social media. And I need to give myself a break on days when the words aren’t coming to me, because most days they do come if I try hard enough, and if they don’t there are so many other tasks to dig my fingers into.