How to Know If You’re Truly a Writer
The sure-fire way to test your literarity
When you’ve been a full-time writer and author for as long as I have, it’s easy to spot when someone else is genuinely a writer and when someone just wants to be a writer.
Everyone on earth wants to be a rich and famous writer, of course. It’s probably the best job in the world — millions of dollars, adoring fans, fancy book parties, loads of travel, having influence in culture, and getting the chance to leave a literary legacy that long outlasts your lifetime.
Unfortunately, less than a few dozen writers alive today will still be widely read in 100 years.
The desire to write is deep in our species — I think it’s part of our primal (perhaps even biological) need to tell stories. We write to know and be known, to love and be loved.
But writing isn’t for everyone.
They say that “everyone has at least one book in them,” but that’s probably where most books should stay. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me to read self-published (and self-serving) memoirs about the most uninteresting of lives.
Before you can determine if you’re a writer, or will ever get paid full-time money to type words on paper, you need to discover what being a writer is not. So here’s a brief via negativa to dispel the myths about what a writer must do to be considered a writer:
It’s not being a reader
I know exactly how this myth got started.
One time, someone read a quote by Stephen King that said you have to read a lot of books if you want to be an author, and next thing you know, every would-be writer in the world decided to put down her pen and pick up a novel.
Friends: Stephen King has published 63 novels, five non-fiction books, nineteen screenplays, eleven collections, 209 short stories, plus several essays, two graphic novels, and at least one libretto. Do you really think he sits around reading all day? The basic math to create that kind of output strongly suggests otherwise. What if he’s an evil genius and is just trying to get everyone to stop writing and start reading his books instead?