When Can I Call Myself a Writer?

A couple of weekends ago was the Write on the Sound writer’s conference in the scenic Edmonds, WA. I’m always amazed how far people will travel for this little conference. It’s very affordable in a quaint and scenic location. My first year was last year, and I’m committed to going every year. It’s that good.

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It’s great to be steeped in writing for three full days. I get to talk to writer’s of all ages when I normally don’t have much interaction with writers in general outside of my small four-person writing group. These were people who were writing books, who had published books! It was inspiring.

I sat through all of my sessions, taking notes from the ones I liked, zoning out in the ones I didn’t like (there weren’t many I didn’t like). I gained so much more out of it this year than I did last year. This year I actually had a work in progress. I could call myself a writer.

I had been calling myself a writer for years. I’ve written for as long as I could remember. But, I started to remove myself from that identity because I hadn’t actually completed anything. I had so many projects started; 500 words here and there of random ideas. I still have those, but now I feel like I have the ability to make them into something bigger. I’ve developed the ability to follow through.

I would say it’s hard to write with little guidance. But, for anyone who doesn’t write or call themselves a writer, you are a writer just by writing.

Write whatever you feel like, as much as you feel like. If you have stories you want to tell and you give it your best, you’re a writer. I had to come to terms with this myself. Even when I went long stretches without writing, I was still a writer.

Through these sessions at the conference, I began to develop a better intimacy with my novel. I began to see it in ways I’d never seen it before. It was as if my vision had been clouded, I’d grown complacent, and now I could see it and what it was, what it could be.

Sure, I started picking it apart. But not with disgust with myself or the work. Instead, I felt a renewed vigor to attack it, to revamp it and make it better. I did a couple of sessions that really worked on selling the first page, and I realized then how much more I had to accomplish in my novel to get a first page that really worked. Once I reach the end, then I feel like I’ll be able to really write that first page.

I may not be making the progress I want or doing the things I want to achieve fast enough. But I’m still writing. Every day I’m writing (a 9 week streak of writing every day!) and making progress, even if I change up my projects.

Sometimes you just need distance from a project when it goes stale. Or you need to immerse yourself in a writing environment where you get some perspective and see what you’ve done and where you can go. Then, you continue writing because you’re a writer.

 

Image Credit: Elliott Chau

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