For aspiring writers, it’s really, really hard to know if you are a “real writer.” It’s a hope that’s stuck in a nebulous cloud of ambition and uncertainty. Here are five ways to know if you are a writer.
The simplest definition of a writer is someone who writes. Which basically means that most of us are writers! We all double-check our spelling on important emails and reread our clever Facebook posts.
However, by that broad definition, then anyone who has boiled pasta for dinner is a chef! It really isn’t that simple. And it’s a question that tends to bother most unpublished or self-published authors and bloggers. Do we have the right to call ourselves writers if only 10 people have read our work? How do you know if you are a writer?
Hobby versus Career
There are lots of people who enjoy writing. It’s a wonderful way to explore thoughts and get lost in your imagination. However, it’s harder to decide when writing goes from being a hobby to one of the ways you define yourself.
We all have hobbies. I like to sew, take long bike rides and grow vegetables. But I’m not quite ready to announce that I’m a seamstress, a pro cyclist, or a farmer. While they are my hobbies, they don’t define who I am at this point in time. (Tour de France here I come!)
Six Ways to Know if you are a writer
Here are six ways to know if you are a writer. I would say that each of these, individually, defines a “real writer.” And as you progress in your writing career you’ll probably achieve all six!
1. Writing skills
Joni B. Cole defines a writer as someone who is willing to work hard on their writing. Writing is a craft. It requires time and commitment to learn how to write well. Whether you’re a corporate writer, blogger, or novelist, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone has worked on developing their skills.
2. People read your work
If someone who doesn’t know you and isn’t a friend of your mom’s, has read your work, then it means you are published! It could be in a magazine or on a blog, but if you have readers who don’t personally know you, then you’re definitely a writer.
3. Writing community
I have learned so much from my writing friends. Everything from where to find workshops and courses, how to apply for grants, and what to expect from a publisher. And it’s always nice to have someone with whom you can celebrate successes and cry over rejections.
4. Professional feedback
It’s really easy to submit. It’s much harder to receive actual feedback on your writing from a submission. If you got a personalized rejection letter, then you’re definitely a writer.
Editors and agents receive tons of submissions. If someone took the time to personally respond, then it means that your writing is close to a professional level.
5. You’ve been paid
This is probably the holy grail of writing… actually getting paid for something you wrote! Even if it’s only $35 for an article, if you got paid for your writing then you’re definitely a writer.
6. You tell people you’re a writer
It took a long time before I admitted to anyone outside of my family that I was spending all my free time writing. It took even longer before I was willing to describe myself as a writer.
If you’re willing to introduce yourself as a writer at a party, then you’re definitely a writer!