I’ve asked myself this question many times since I first felt the desire to tell stories.
Was I a real writer? Or just a fraud with a broken pen?
Well, after years of self-doubt, after finding fellow writers who showed me the boundless territory of creative writing, I am pleased to break the good news: I am a writer and so are you.
But how do you know for sure?
- You want to write
- You want to write well
- You write
But wait, isn’t it more complicated than that?
What about those rules? The ones that say ‘you can’t be a true writer unless you write every day’, or ‘you have to lose yourself in the character’s mind like a bad out-of-body acid trip to really be a writer’.
I have two words: toss ’em.
Who has the authority to define artistic expression? Who can say with such conviction that a wonderful, beautiful, inspiring creature like you can only succeed by functioning like someone else? What ‘real writer’ in their clear-as-morning mind can prescribe unmovable rules unto a fluid craft that is by nature, personal?
I can’t tell you how many times my teenage-self heard some famous novelist or poet give soul-sucking rules about what it takes to achieve ‘real writer’ status.
Unfortunately, it was largely because of these parameters that I rejected my creative nature. I saw these standards and thought, writing is not for me after all.
Those rules didn’t inspire me. They didn’t give something to strive toward. I felt rejected by the popularized atmosphere of writing.
In recent years, I broke from these restraints by discovering something about myself: I am a multi-talented artist. I paint, refurbish furniture, do pottery, draw, sing, and write.
And most importantly: I do what I want when I feel like it.
This realization did not come to me on its own. I was in a rough patch. My personal and professional life was in shambles and I was desperate to discover my identity. I was reeling and the only thing there was to cling to was my barest instincts that told me to create without consequence or distinction.
The rest was history.
Know this: you are a writer whether you write every day, or once a year. Remember that. It’s the passion, the love of creation. Do it your own way, and don’t let anyone shame you with their rules.
Today, I write like it’s my lifeline. For me, art is done for the artist’s sake. I live to connect to humanity. To you. That is my identity.
Ask now, what’s yours?
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3 ways to start assessing your writing identity
At this point, you know you love writing. You have that wonderful desire to create. Now let’s begin exploring what kind of a writer you are. Assessing yourself is a great way to boost the self-awareness needed to nurture your own needs and habits. Let’s to this!
1. Your approach
The two most prevalent writing approaches are: planning and discovery.
Planning is the structured approach. This is for those who need to understand the complete plot, characters, trajectory, etc. before beginning the story itself. On the other hand, discovery writers prefer to find the story as they write. Characters, backstories, plot lines will all reveal themselves as they go.
Remember, there are tons of people in between who like to plan a little alongside discovery. All of this is ok! Your job is to find what approach excites and works best for you. There is no wrong answer!
2. Your structure
I don’t like setting a writing schedule for myself. I enjoy choosing my time and place as I please, and writing when I feel like it. Some days, I don’t write at all. Freedom is like water for my soul.
What kind of structure is best for your personality? If you need to commit to a time, commit. If you like a loose schedule you can shift around, shift. If you’re like me and hiss like a hellcat at any enforced expectations, find your flow.
3. Your goals
What are you writing for?
Acknowledging your goals and writing them down is an excellent way to keep your purpose in mind. If you’re writing a novel and like a strong deadline, create that schedule. Or, accept the journey of an undisclosed deadline and write until you feel you are finished. If you want to publish short stories or poetry, give yourself an end product to work toward, and find some literary journals you’d like to submit to!
I understand these are all very open and airy guidelines, but that’s what writing is. It’s open to each person’s need and desires. Take the time to look at yourself. Value yourself. Assess.
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