I’ve written here before about not feeling confident enough to call myself a writer. But what does it mean to be a writer, anyway? Rather, what do I think I should be doing to count as a writer?
Writers work on their manuscripts every day, and go to writing clubs and writing events to pontificate about the elements of writing and other writerly things.
Let’s dissect that.
In the post I linked, I wrote about the benefit of my local writing circle. However, we’re on break at the moment. Sure, I could seek out others but I don’t. It’s like with teaching. There’s plenty of conferences to go to, but I don’t go to all of them. Sometimes I don’t go to any for months at a time. I like to meet other teachers and share ideas, but conferences are a commitment of time and energy. I get overwhelmed when I do too much of anything. By being selective, I can enjoy the conferences I do go to because I genuinely want to be there. Even if I never went to any conferences, I would still consider myself as a teacher, as gaining experience, reaching out to colleagues, reading online research and resources, and taking courses are other ways to improve my craft.
There are people who do work on their manuscripts daily. I have manuscripts I want to work on but am not particular vibing with at the moment. But I do writing exercises with a book of prompts and I do journaling most times. That writing might not ever be published, but it’s still valuable and is still writing. I’m still working on my craft. I listen to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast to learn about the elements of writing; I am exposed to the writing of others as a writing teacher, reader, and consumer; I’ll point out some writing that struck me in a text I received. There’s no one way to be a teacher, writer, or whatever it is you want to do.
I certainly desire to do more. But considering that I went from years of hardly writing to doing what I mentioned above, I am making progress. The end result I seek will come if I continue to be consistent and patient with myself.
In his call for applications to join him on the first private trip to the moon on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Yusaku Maezawa said, “If you see yourself as an artist, then you are an artist.” I see myself as a writer, therefore I am a writer. To be clear, I don’t believe seeing yourself a particular way is passive. Actions do need to be taken to back up that vision. So, what work are you doing to be what you seek? Don’t overlook the seemingly small things. Don’t focus on what you think you’re supposed to be doing. Just look at what it is you are doing now. List it out–it just might be more than you think.