I am a writer
The first step in becoming a writer is admitting aloud that you already are the thing that you said you always said you wanted to be “someday.” The first step is getting over the idea that you are not a writer, that you are not yet ready to be a writer because you haven’t “prepared” enough.
Like most writers, I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but like most writers, I was in denial that I was good enough to be called a writer. Yes, since I was child, I wrote things. I wrote essays and poems and stories and letters and started and trashed novels, but a writer? Oh, no, no, no. Not me. When someone asked what I was going to do after high school, I said I was going to college to become a psychologist and then a college professor. I liked the certainty of those professions and the idea that maybe, just maybe, somehow, someone, somewhere would discover me and make me the thing I always really wanted to be…a writer.
Writers are good. Writers are loved. Writers never make mistakes. And I made mistakes and I was good but not that good so I went to school and workshops and read books to get better. I wasn’t really a writer. I was in training, I was becoming, I thought, a better writer so that I could have the guts to do the thing I knew I wanted to do but couldn’t do because I wasn’t ready yet.
Writing was a hobby that I did through my years as a young woman. It was something I did sometimes but never really said I did seriously because when you’re a highly insecure young woman, seriousness can be costly. It can be costly to your ego, mostly. It can be costly to hear that you aren’t as great as you think you are in your head . It’s easier to live in your head and with that ego that you could be a writer if only you took it seriously.
If only. But you won’t take it seriously because to take it seriously and fail would be catastrophic. So you don’t take it seriously because you don’t really take yourself seriously.
To admit that you are a writer, you must decide to lose your ego. You must decide to tell that voice that says you’re not ready to shut up. You must decide to write because this is what writers do. They write. Are they always great? No. In fact the best writers are those who are okay with being mediocre for the sake of what that means to their souls as writer and as human beings. They write crap and beautiful things because this is what they do, they write. They write not for others but for themselves and because they value their words enough to release them into the world to live and find new meaning elsewhere.
But I lost my ego somewhere along the way in becoming a mother. When I became a mother, I was faced with this baby who needed me and I felt I was losing myself and sight of that very “important” novel written that I started at 24. I had failed myself. Motherhood left all that I thought mattered about my life on the floor. And as I lie there with my baby in my arms, I had to decide to pick up the things I could see most clearly from that low place. I picked up my child, my pen, and that desire to become the woman I always wanted to become but that my ego and insecurities and “better” judgment preventing me from ever become.
When I turned 29, I started saying that I was a writer and then began to do the things that writers do. I began writing for a public audience with the expectation of nothing else but to put my ideas in front of others and get better.
I am a writer (and so are you).
So what happens when you decide to call yourself a professional writer?
First, you start doing the things that professional writers do. When I made writing my priority, I began pitching publications. My writings (essays, articles, and blog posts) have appeared on (and in a) variety of sites and publications, from Babble to Huffington Post. For a complete list of where my work has been published, please check out my Writings page.
After pitching, you wait and when you hear back, regardless of the response, you continue to write, because remember, this is what you do. You write and read and write more and live. Yes, you must live.
What do I read as a writer? I read a lot. I read novels and essays and newspapers. I also read a lot of blogs. Some that I can recommend to any writer out there who hopes to get serious are: Make a Living Writing, Renegade Writer, and Goins Writer. Along with reading, it’s important to put yourself in a community of writers. Whether offline or online, it’s critical that you surround yourself with writers like yourself, writers who are serious and are in the throes of all that comes with a career in writing. I neglected the importance of a writer community until I started my blog, Short Little Bits.
Some of my favorite posts on my journey as a writer are here:
So, promise me, if nothing else, you start calling yourself a writer. Hmmm? A writer. Yes, you. You are a writer. Now start acting like one.