To many people, it sounds like a pretentious label for anyone to call themselves if they haven’t had any of their work published via traditional means. Often those people are the same ones who have never had the courage to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys let alone share their own work with anyone.
But guess what? A writer is simply a person who writes. Whether you are paid for it or not is irrelevant because the work that you get paid to do does not define you. There is so much more to you than that. So what is relevant is that you use plenty of what Stephen King refers to as ‘bum glue’. Yes, that’s right… keeping your behind stuck to your chair and writing. Not sitting there mindlessly scrolling through silly memes and meaningless quiz results and arguing with strangers who comment on news articles on Facebook, but actually expressing your thoughts in a creative and coherent manner and striving to get better and better at it every day. If you do that on a consistent basis, then you are just as much a writer, as you may be a daughter, son, mother, father, choir member, parishioner, volunteer fire fighter, or any other label that applies to you. All that matters is that you write and that you do it consistently.
That means that when you start fearing the critics, you remember Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” And you just write.
When you don’t know what to write. Just write.
When you fear that people will laugh at you. Just write.
When you fear that noone will read your words. Just write.
When you publish a blog post and only two people read it. Just write.
When you are scared of being misunderstood or quoted out of context. Just write.
When you are worried about whether you are capable of coming up with anything original. Just write.
When people have tried to silence you. Just write.
When you need a break from any other creative pursuits. Just write.
When you haven’t written anything significant in twenty years and don’t know if you’ve “still got it”. Just write.
When you’re tired and making a lot of typing mistakes, but the words keep flowing. Just write.
No matter what your excuse is for not writing, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do “some day”, then make sure that “some” day is actually today. Life is way too short, and extra years cannot be bought. So just write.
Also published on Medium.