You're A What Now?
New and experienced writers alike are confronted with two these words on a regular basis. We see them on Pinterest, Instagam, Facebook. We see them used in posts from other writers, in articles written by writers for writers. When you're not writing, these two words seem to be everywhere. They're meant to be encouraging and motivating, and sometimes they are. But at the end of the day they also promote one rigid and demoralising idea: if you're not writing, you're not a writer.
I'm a writer. I have a modest collection of novels to my name. I have sales under my belt and reviews on my product pages. But over the last six months or so I've barely managed to string more than a few paragraphs together. Does this mean I should hand over my pen and paper, or start calling myself an ex-writer?
Nope. Don't think so. Not gonna happen. In the words of Steven Pressfield (author of The War of Art): "You are a writer when you tell yourself you are. No one else's opinion matters. Screw them. You are when you say you are."
Putting one word after another is a huge part of what makes me think of myself as a writer. Of course, it is. But it's not the only thing. I identify as a writer because I have a burning desire to share my thoughts and imaginings through writing. This is true on days when I smash out 1000s of words. It's also true on days/weeks/months when my word count is a big fat zero.
I'm a writer because my characters follow me into the shower; because song lyrics jump out at me randomly and must be added to a particular book soundtrack NOW; because I occasionally burn dinner after dashing out of the kitchen to write out a scene that just played through my head; because I make notes on my phone about character motivations and plot points; because I study the story structure of movies and tv shows; because I read books on writing and creativity to better learn my craft; because I have so many characters in my head and they all want it to be 'their turn' to talk.
I'm a writer because I can feel the words bouncing around inside me and the only way to get them out is through my fingers and onto a page. Just as you are whatever you feel called to do, whether it be paint a picture, parent a child, start a business, write a song, plant a garden, nurse a patient, and on and on into infinity. I believe we're all happiest when the best of who we are on the inside is authentically shared on the outside.
I look forward to sharing more of me again.