So, are You a Writer or What?

“Hmph, a writer!” is what I see in their eyes when I tell them. “Riiiight!” they drawl (pun intended), and that’s the way most conversations go when I meet someone and they ask me what I do.

Ethereal Beauty!

My first intention is to tell them what I’ve always told them because it sounds pretty awesome in the ‘normal’ world: “I’m a ballet teacher and I used to be a professional dancer before that.” “Oh wow,” they say with raised eyebrows and the expected expressions of intense interest and slight envy, and I glow in their awestruck wonder as they ask me about my illustrious career as a dancer, that most magical and unobtainable of professions by most mortals.

So why doesn’t me being an author have the same effect?

Perhaps it’s that I have yet to say it with enough confidence and mysticism as when I tell them I was a dancer on the professional stage – an ethereal ballerina that defied gravity and performed physical acts of such astonishing feats that they could never dream to know how I did it (that was not meant to sound kinky!).

Being a reasonably new author I do not yet possess that same in-your-face confidence as I had as an accomplished dancer. I tend to look at what I’ve written and the smallish success I’ve had so far in comparison to my dancing career when that’s actually a rather silly and self-defacing attitude to have! If I didn’t believe I could be a damn good writer then I wouldn’t have started!

By nature I am a perfectionist. That means that unless I do something to the absolute best of my ability, with every fibre of my being involved, then I don’t want to do it! I continuously learn and read and write and spend hours at my laptop so that I can become better and better at what I love to do, just like when I was a student dancer learning to become what I eventually did in the professional arena.

Now, yes, I’m not yet a Terry Brooks or a David Eddings or a Stephen King, but just like they once did I have made a start and I believe in my abilities and talents to turn myself into the best writer I can be. Simply making that start, sitting down at my laptop and beginning that awesomely powerful act of creating something, makes me a writer, an author, someone to take note of, dammit! – as it is with all writers whether they are newbies or veterans! They deserve recognition and acknowledgement because they have put blood, sweat, and tears into their work!

I recently read a blog by Jeff Goins, the author of You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One). In his blog titled: The Simple Reason You’re Not a Writer (Yet), he mentions asking author Stephen Pressfield when a writer becomes a writer:

“Is it when you get a book deal? When you sell your first thousand copies? When you hit the best sellers list? When do you get to call yourself a writer?

Steve said something I’ll never forget:

‘You are when you say you are. Screw what everyone else says.’”

I love that because it speaks to my heart and where I’m at right now.

Jeff continued to say:

“Steve was right.

I started to act like a writer. A real one, not a wannabe. And all kinds of amazing things happened as a result. Guest posts, book deals, invitations to write for magazines, even cold, hard cash in my pocket — all because I called myself a writer.

Why this works

When you call yourself a writer (or an entrepreneur, an innovator, or whatever), you unlock something inside yourself that wasn’t there before. Here’s what happens:

  1. It gives you confidence. Nobody wants to read work that an amateur writes. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t believe in himself. Calling yourself a writer helps you do just that.
  2. It makes your work better. Believe it or not, confidence matters. Not just for your self-esteem, but for the quality of work you do. When you start calling yourself something, you raise the stakes. You call your own bluff. And pretty soon, you ante up.
  3. It makes other people believe it, too. Unfortunately, we live in a world enamored of titles. When you tell people, “Writing is just something I do on the side…” you sabotage yourself before you get a chance to prove yourself. Calling yourself a writer is an invitation to the world to take you seriously. It helps you get paid.

So what are you waiting for?

Time to call yourself a writer — and actually believe it.”

Jeff Goins’s Book

In just about every blog I’ve written I’ve spoken about the belief you need to have in yourself in order to create the masterpiece/s that exists inside you just waiting to be unleashed upon the world. I believe confidence in yourself and your craft is paramount to success – even if you are new at it (and even if you’ve been at it for a while!). New doesn’t mean less capable that Brooks, Eddings, or King, it just means you’ve begun where they once did and now you’re on your way to where they are!

Next time someone asks me what I do I will lift my chin, look them in the eye, show them the utter joy that lives inside me every time I create my worlds and characters, and tell them with absolute authority and full belief in myself: “I am a published author. And you?”

Please leave a comment and tell me of your own experiences as an author whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at this for a while. I’d love to hear from you.

Terry Brooks Image courtesy of Amazon

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About SwordBearer

I am a fantasy and science fiction author. I have published three epic fantasy novels in a tetralogy with Xlibris Publishing, and a sci-fi short story, The Door. All are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online retailers. The Door is also available on Smashwords. I love reading everything from King to Koontz, Cussler to Brooks and Feist, to name but a few. Before writing became my life I was a professional ballet, jazz/contemporary dancer in South Africa. Writing and storytelling have always been passions since childhood, and I want to share them with the world!!

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Just Begin!, Passion versus Knowledge, Tools to Help You Get Started, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Loved this post! First of all, I have to be one of the people who says “WOW – you were a dancer? – How exciting!”. Having spent 12 years in a ballet studio studying dance, I understand the dedication, sweat and downright hard work it takes to dance ballet. Writing is the same. Only other writers understand the dedication and hard work it takes to complete a novel and are the first to accept you as a “writer”. For almost 20 years, I freelanced for publications before moving on to writing novels. I never bothered to tell anyone I was a writer because the one or two times I did, they just nodded and their eyes glazed over. Because my articles weren’t in their favorite glossy magazine or I didn’t have a bestselling novel, then they didn’t consider me a writer. Things are much different now. I proudly tell people I am a writer. I’ve completed three novels and self-published them, received some very nice reviews and have sold many copies. If that doesn’t make me a writer, I don’t know what does. If you believe in yourself enough to sit for hours and hours alone writing a novel, then you should believe in yourself enough to say, “I’m a writer.” As far as I’m concerned, you become a writer the minute you start placing your ideas on paper.

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  2. Thanks for your lovely comments, Deanna. Glad we agree! Yes, the simple act of sitting and writing a novel, blog, article, etc, makes us writers no matter what the rest of the world thinks! Unfortunately, there are many out there who only consider you a success if you’re one of the Superstars which is plain nonsense! Congrats on publishing your novels and on the success you’ve had. Do not despise the day of small beginnings and keep believing in yourself. Greatness is pretty subjective in the end. If you believe you’re a great writer then you are! Go conquer the world!!

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  3. Great write, Monique. For me, writing just became so consuming that at some point, I morphed from personal chef to writer–when asked as to my profession. So what If I don’t (yet) get paid! Persistence, Prudence! 🙂

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  4. Thanks, Karen! Glad to connect! Once you’ve been in one profession for most of your life and then move into writing it is quite a mind-shift, especially when someone asks what you do and the first thing that comes out is that and not, “I’m an author.” It’s becoming more of an unconscious thing for me the more I say it and, hey, pretty soon it will happen without thought. That will be a happy day!

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  5. Reblogged this on T!pT0e.

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