One of the most difficult things I had to do was tell myself it was okay – it is okay – to call myself a writer. Silly, right? A grown man giving himself permission to call himself a writer. It’s the truth though.
What business do I have calling myself one? With no particular credentials under my belt, where the hell do I get off considering myself an actual writer? What gall!
Lemme backtrack for a second, tell you how I arrived at this deplorable conceit…
One day I decided that an idea I had floating around in my head needed to be written. So, over the course of the next several months, I did just that. By the end of the year, I’d finished my first book. The story wasn’t done though, so I tucked my chin, put my ass in the chair, and motored on. Another year, another book done. I pushed ahead and started in on the third book not long after that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I spent time on revisions and rereads too, it wasn’t a non-stop flow from book to book, but, in short, I’d written two and a quarter books in four years.
To some, that’s going to sound like an accomplishment, to others, not so much. It was a big deal for me. I work a full-time office job so this was done in my spare time. And, because I grew up on epic fantasy, my books are on the longer side. No 90k novels for me. No ma’am. Think double that, and triple.
Oddly enough, I hadn’t really taken myself seriously. I mean, sure, yeah, I’d written a couple books, and had queried the first one to a few agents, but it’s not like I was a professional author. None of those agents signed me. Surely only professional authors can call themselves writers…no?
Then, in late 2016, an old friend approached me about joining a writing group. I jumped on the chance. A group of like-minded people, honest feedback, helpful insight, more practice at the craft…Absolutely. I had to be a part of it. It wasn’t until I’d become involved in the process of weekly story submissions, giving and receiving feedback, and recording podcasts that I realized…shit, I’m a writer.
Who says so? Me. I can call myself one. Forget what anyone else says. It doesn’t matter what my background is, what I do currently, or what I may do next. I write stories. They may not be as insightful as yours, or as action-packed, might not even be funny, or maybe they are, it doesn’t matter…I write stories. I own that. And the only person who can take it away from me is me.
Author Steven Pressfield says that to go from being an amateur to a professional first requires a mental shift. Sure, there’s more to it – there always is – but it starts with you. With each of us.
“What we get when we turn pro is, we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out.”
If you’re one of those writers holding yourself back, even if you don’t know why, stop. Just stop. Take a deep breath. Smile – a proud smile. You’re a writer, too, goddamit. It’s okay, go ahead and say it. I’m giving you permission. Own that shit.
Now, get back to work.