From the time you start writing to probably the time you stop, you’re going to stumble across people who will ask whether you’re really a writer. People who will twist their lips and raise their eyebrows when you tell them you write, or ask what you’ve published (and where). Maybe you’re already established and someone questions whether your silly YA books are really literature.
The definition of what a writer is has been debated within the writing community for ages. What are the parameters? What do you have to have accomplished in order to be considered one? Do you have to finish a novel? Publish something? Get picked up by one of the Big Five houses? Do you need to be on the New York Times bestseller list?
But here’s the thing: if you think you’re a writer, you already are one.
I spent years of my life questioning myself and my abilities. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here and claim that I’m some kind of writing Jedi master, because I know I still have a lot to learn. But I’ve worked hard to get to where I am now, and I’m proud of that. I struggled through plotting and writer’s block. I used people’s dismissal as spite fuel. I wrote and rewrote and then wrote some more. I scrapped my last novel three times and reworked the entire thing each time. I did hours and hours of research on fighting techniques and period-era weaponry.
I did all of this with doubt swirling in my head, a little voice telling me that I wasn’t good enough—that my work wasn’t good enough. That no one would ever take me seriously. And when I finally started querying out my first novel and received rejection after rejection, it was like my worst fears were being confirmed. I almost gave up on writing entirely.
And look, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get published. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop worrying that my writing is “good enough”. But I do know that no matter what preconceived ideas I put on myself, I’m still a writer. And no matter what, so are you.
People will always try and tell you what you can and can’t be. But you’re the only one who can decide whether or not you’re a writer, and no one else can take that from you.
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