You can stop doubting yourself now.
If you’re drawn to writing,
if it gives you pleasure,
if you value the written word and are amazed by the power of writing and want to participate in creating it,
if you feel born to write,
whatever your reason,
if you want to write —
you’re a writer.
Period. That draw/pleasure/value/desire/feeling/reason makes you a writer, all by itself.
If you’re not writing, it doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. The idea that “writers are people who write” can do a lot of harm — because in reality, writers often don’t write. Avoid the downward spiral, the unnecessary additional suffering, of letting it make you doubt that you’re a writer. The non-writing phases of being a writer are valid, too. Sometimes they’re necessary.
If writing feels painful, scary, confronting, intimidating — if the idea of writing makes you want to hide under a blanket or watch TV instead — you’re still a writer. Many people who are definitely writers have felt the same way. A lot.
“Sometimes it seems like a physical effort simply to sit down at my desk and pull out the notebook. . . . Sometimes the effort of putting pen to paper is so great that I literally feel a pain in my head.” (Frances Hinton, in Anita Brookner’s LOOK AT ME)
If all that fear, discomfort, and intimidation — whatever individual reasons happen to be yours — have been keeping you away from writing, you’re still a writer. It’s okay. You don’t need to doubt yourself or punish yourself with guilt.
If you’re actually putting butt in chair, then you’re a practicing writer. Even if only five minutes a day, and even if you only write one word in those five minutes, you qualify. There are perks to being a practicing writer, one of the most fun being that you actually produce stuff. Also, usually, over time you get better. @shauntagrimes started with ten minutes a day. You can do a lot in ten minutes a day.
If you’re not putting butt in chair, it’s okay. You’re still a writer. You’re just in the pre-actual writing stage.
“ It helps to know that most writers share the paradox of least wanting to do what we most want to do.” (Janet Burroway)
It’s pretty simple to switch from pre-actual-writing writer to practicing writer:
Write ONE WORD.
Congratulations, you’re a practicing writer! You’ve begun to bring your work into the world. You now qualify for all the additional agonies and ecstasies of doing productive work. You’re opening the door to possibilities. You’re learning, at the same time. Give yourself a star. You’re awesome.
And you’re still awesome, if you don’t. You’re still a writer.
SK Camille writes about life, love, healing, and her adventures in motorbiking, travel, and dance. She was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1966 and has been a digital nomad since 2016.