Whether I’d admit it or not, it takes a certain amount of confidence to be a writer. Whether that confidence is in the form of believing in your ability to write, the story you have inside, the ease with which you write, or the desire to write there’s something for every writer that pushes them forward. There’s also a spectrum of how writers feel about their writing, from uncertainty about their ability to those who may be overconfident and even pretentious.
To start, let me assure you that if you find your way to this blog, you will never have to justify your writing to me. In other words, you don’t need a certain set of qualifications for me to take you seriously as a writer or to participate in the conversations here. If you are a well-published author who enjoys reading about another writer’s struggles, or you enjoy learning about helpful writing tools, or you happen to enjoy the pieces of writing I sometimes share, welcome. If you’re someone who thinks about dabbling in writing, but you haven’t yet built up the courage, welcome. There’s a home for everyone here, even those who may not be interested in writing, but enjoy the community and writing you find here. You never have to be concerned about your level of writing, if you enjoy reading my work or enjoy writing I encourage you to join in on the conversations. I respond to all comments, and if you have questions I will do my best to answer. And who knows, it may even become the topic of a future blog post if I think it might help others as well.
Now that you can be confident that this community here that I’m building is right for you, let me return to my confidence as a writer. It wavers right up to the point where I share my work with others. Then I feel the compulsion to apologize for my piece. I want to explain that I can’t always identify the weaknesses in my writing because I’m too familiar with the story. But when I see other authors do this, I wish they’d let me form an impression about the story without apologizing. Let me enjoy it’s beauty without prejudicing me against it before I’ve even read or heard a word. Let me encourage you to take this advice with you. Never apologize for your writing. Let it speak for itself.
I try to apply that to my own work. No matter how much I want to explain that I’m not a poet, so don’t judge my poem too harshly, or explain why a piece might not work, I try to fight the urge and let the piece stand on its own. And by now, I’ve written so many poems and received such sweet kind words of praise that I need to adjust my thinking about whether I am worthy of calling myself a poet or not.
I find the distinction between a writer and an author is much the same. People are timid to claim the title author until they have published a novel, even though by definition an author is merely someone who writes or creates something.
When I started this site, I hesitated to use the word author. But I left my job to pursue writing full time, I paid to have this site for three years, and I committed to be an author and write until I’m old enough to retire. So I decided to claim the title and use it until I felt it belonged to me, until I achieved what I thought I needed to in order to deserve the title.
When I considered what it meant to be published, I avoided claiming any work that wasn’t fiction, even though I have hundreds of articles that were published when I worked as a journalist. To me, they were assignments to write stories about other people and I merely gave them a voice.
It’s easy to get swept away in self-doubt and to undermine your value as a writer, as an author. But don’t. I sometimes wonder if pretentious writers have drawn a line in the sand to state that they’ve finally made it past some arbitrary accomplishment that they feel finally makes them a true author. It makes it to where they constantly have to point out that other authors haven’t yet made it to that point.
In my journey thus far, I have realized my passion for writing grows every day, and my desire to help and encourage other writers inspires me to keep going.
What are your recent writing accomplishments? Do you have a story idea that you’re excited about? Have you written your first sentence or paragraph that’s not required for a class? Have you submitted your first story to a magazine or agent? Have you received your first rejection (hey, seriously, this means you’re putting your work out there and it’s worth celebrating!)? Are you about to publish your 55th novel (Stephen King, I’m looking at you and no, in case anyone is fact checking, I’m not sure if he’s only coming up on 55)? Tell me about it, and we’ll celebrate regardless of how big or small the accomplishment. Or feel free to share your own struggles as a writer or share any other thoughts that come to you. These are just some ideas to get you started.