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.
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.
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 I can see how someone who is unpublished would feel weird calling themselves an author.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.