One of my English teachers recently asked us what makes a writer. Who are they? How do they act? Along with the usual jokes about being tormented enough or drinking enough alcohol, one guy said, “A writer is someone who writes.”
This prompted me to write about two things. First, to elaborate on what he said. Second, to share the reason why I like meeting celebrities. Trust me, the two have merging points.
A writer is someone who writes. Obvious, you say and laugh, but the statement is true to its core. Writing a novel a year, or maybe multiple novels a year makes you a writer. Submitting one story to an anthology a year makes you one, too. Scrawling notes on whatever paper is on hand, journaling, letters; it makes you a writer.
I know some might feel that the sentiment is diminishing towards the skill and determination of those who make writing their career, but I disagree. That isn’t what I aim to imply. What I want you to leave with is a new understanding of the word “writer”. People are often so wrapped up with the notion of “being a writer” that they don’t realize they already are. They’re hung up on some self-constructed barrier that they need to pass in order to use the term, and it ends up tormenting them and holding them back. Write a certain amount of words a day, be published, receive a certain amount of recognition, emulate a certain tone, make a living off their work, the list goes on.
But here is what I think: those are goals, not qualifiers. They’re great goals, yes, ones that you have to succeed at if you want to write for a career, but for the rest of us not achieving them doesn’t mean you can’t be a writer. Why does it matter? Being hung up on not achieving the lifestyle or recognition that some do is disheartening, discouraging. It can stop you from writing because you think you aren’t good enough.
I told you this related to why I like meeting celebrities. It’s because, in addition to fangirlism of course, it reminds me that they are just people. When I shake their hand and get my picture with them, I’m excited, but all the while I know they’ll have to find somewhere to eat dinner after the convention, and at night they’re probably thinking about the next project they’re working on. They were not always the epic Writers or Actors we know today. At one point they were struggling just like you, but they kept at it and they finally succeeded.
So, call yourself a writer. Don’t be afraid to. Be confident, keep trying, and know your perseverance will eventually pay off in some way. Don’t let the intangible connotations of a title stop you. Don’t ask yourself, “Can I call myself a writer yet? Have I done enough yet? Am I there yet?” If you’re asking yourself those questions, I’d say the answer is yes.