The other day I was scrolling through pinterest, when a pin with a writing quote came up. It said something like, “A real writer doesn’t write because they want to, but because they can’t stop.”
And you know what, it made me feel gross, worried, and finally angry.
I have struggled with wondering if I’m a “real writer” ever since I began writing almost four years ago. I would hear stories and quotes from people talking about how they’d been writing since they were children. How they always knew they wanted to write. This was their dream.
Well, guess what? It wasn’t mine. In fact, I have witnesses who can attest to the fact that five years ago I said, “Oh, I could never write a book. I’m way too succinct for that.”
Yes, you may laugh now.
But that history of mine, that lack of lifelong desire, it made me worry for a long time, that maybe I’m not really cut out for this writing gig. Maybe I’m not a “real” writer.
There are other comments and stereotypes out there that are unhelpful.
Real writers get an MFA.
Real writers have a dying need to write.
Real writers love every minute of writing.
Real writers make their living writing.
Real writers are published.
Hmmmm, yeah. None of these are helping me fight off that imposter syndrome. Most of the writers I know don’t have an MFA. I definitely don’t.
I enjoy writing, I really do. But I could live without it if I had to. Oh, I’d miss it. But it’s not a need. Not by any stretch.
I don’t know a single person who enjoys every minute of writing, either. I have to force myself into that chair every night. Take a deep breath before opening that document, and force myself to get into that groove. And sometimes when I’m drafting, I never hit that groove and the entire thing feels like an exercise in pain.
In the last four years of writing I’ve made less than $300.
And even though I have publishing credits to my name, they never made me feel anymore legit like I was hoping. The truth is, even after getting an agent, I still feel the same.
Because I am.
No publishing milestone, no amount of money, is going to change what I already am today.
Not because it comes easy to me, or because I have to do it every day to maintain my sanity, or because I just can’t stop.
But because I do it. I make the time and I write.
And whether I write two pages a day, or go on 8 hour streaks every Saturday, or block out my afternoons for it, doesn’t matter.
I write. I write. I write.
That’s what makes me a writer. Not my history, or my talents, or my needs or desires. But that one, single action, done consistently.
Nobody can take that title away from me.
I am a writer.