Are You A Writer? OWN IT!

In Twitterville the auto DM for following has a very bad name.  This is because most people who use it, do it wrong.  They make it all about ME ME ME.  This is my website, my facebook, my book, do something for ME.  Consequently, a lot of folks totally ignore their DMs.  Well I still use an auto DM, but mine is all about starting a conversation.  Thanks for the follow.  So are you reader, writer, cook, or general humorist?  Because pretty well everybody who follows me is one or more of those things.  I’m not as great as I should be about replying to these messages (because, did you notice, I have over 4800 followers? It’s a lot of people), but I try and very often I wind up having at least a brief conversation about books or food or writing–or unintentional humor, which is the kind I specialize in.

Anyway, I got a response to my auto DM last week that’s been kicking around in my head since then.

I would love to say I’m a writer, but haven’t had anything published.

It really struck me as a case of low-confidence.  There’s this whole school of thought out there that you have to meet certain criteria to claim yourself as a writer, that anything else is being a poser and might lead to some kind of ugly showdown at the OK Corral, Celebrity-deathmatch style if one of the Chosen who the world classifies as writers happens to catch you.  Consequently there’s a crapton of people out there who call themselves “aspiring-writer”.  And God forbid they have the guts to call themselves an author.

Here’s the thing.  There is only one requirement for calling yourself a writer.  This is big.  You paying attention?  Okay, here it is.

Writers write.

That’s it.  If you are putting your butt in chair, hands on keyboard (or around writing utensil with a notebook), producing words on some regular basis (and we all presume they are coherent words and not something that resembles the Loris Ipsulum thing they have on mock blog templates), then you are a writer.

Claim it.

Kristen Lamb wrote a fabulous post back in January about how aspiring is for pansies.  Following that was a really interesting discussion over at Jami Gold’s place about whether you call yourself author or writer.  I personally prefer writer.  Writer is an active thing.  Writers write.  To my mind, being an author is to have had something published (traditionally or self), which is a passive state.  I can see how someone who is unpublished would feel weird calling themselves an author.  But anybody who writes is a writer.  Period.

Don’t aspire. Don’t try.  Don’t be a pansy.

Do.  Write.  Be brave.  Own it.

The final computer-generated Yoda as seen in t...
Do or do not, there is no try. -Image via Wikipedia


12 thoughts on “Are You A Writer? OWN IT!

  1. Oh how I love this post! I think there’s way too much fear among writers. From the blog posts and comments I’ve seen, writers seem to be an insecure lot. Even some of the very best writers I know don’t have the self confidence they should have (even if they are AWESOME). You know what? We need an OWN IT! button for all of us to put on our blogs! 🙂 For those of us who are published and those of us who aren’t yet. We’re all still writers, like you said!

    Ok, I got a little carried away with excitement there for a moment. But an OWN IT button sounded so good….

  2. I’m one of those people nervous about referring to herself as a writer out of fear of it sounding pretentious and arrogant. I agree with you and Lauralynn, we need to OWN IT!

  3. I am of the belief that if you write, you are an author (I consider myself to be this) BUT, if you are only an author once you are published. is there a difference do you think?

  4. Well said, Kait. I consider myself a writer and author because writers write (work on their craft continually) and authors have written (authored/completed a book or other work). Coining ourselves the writers we are not only shows confidence but breeds it.

  5. Oh, shoot. Here I thought I was speshul. ;o) But seriously, what a great idea, and what a good way to start a dialog with your twitter followers. May have to steal that.

    Anyway, you are exactly right, we need to own it. The universe is full enough of things that will stand in our way, we don’t need to do it to ourselves.

    I’m Callene, and I’m a writer!

  6. This reminds me of a poetry workshope I went to once. The workshop itself completely rocked, but when we were starting we had an introduction round, and I mentioned that although I had been writing since childhood, I was (then) unpublished. The previous person to introduce themselves interrupted me and said, “Well if you’ve been writing for so long, why aren’t you published yet?” The accusatory sound in their voice took me back much more than the actual question.

    The facilitator was wonderful about redirecting the question smoothing things over, but I have to admit I braced myself for that person’s feedback every time we shared what we had written that day.

    Now if I meet people like that, I’ll just direct them to this blog post :-).

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