How to Become a Writer

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My friend Amelia Rhodes and I snapped this picture about 3 years ago at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference. If you look closely, the sticker on the mirror reads, “Look in the mirror. You will see a writer”.

At the time, Amelia had just signed a book contract and I was waiting to hear from WhiteFire Publishing about Paint Chips. We knew that we were writers when we took this photo.

But we didn’t always know that.

Something about calling yourself a writer before you’re published sounds pretentious, right? It smacks of one looking down her nose and possessing lofty thoughts about her abilities to write the next great American novel/poem/memoir/study.

For years I would say, “I like to write” or “I want to be a writer”.

I needed to learn what it takes to be a writer before I could own the label. I don’t believe I’m alone here.

Every couple of weeks I get an email that goes something like this:

Hi, Susie! So, I think I want to be a writer. I’ve got this story I’m working on and I want to get it published. I just wondered what I have to do to become a writer. Thanks! 

My answer to this is always the same.

If you are writing then you are a writer.

Simple as that.

The publishing and making money (which isn’t the goldmine it would seem to be) and becoming famous (which is, happily, not a thing for most authors) — all that stuff comes after you get writing. After you get yourself a name tag and a sharpie and label yourself as a writer.

The first step in the writing life is accepting you have a problem…

…ahem…

taking the name of Writer.

Then, you know what you have to do?

You Have To Write.

A lot. Every day if you can. Don’t worry if it’s trash. Nobody has to see it until after you clean it up a bit.

Just do the work. Write your little fingers off.

Once you do that, you’re a writer, baby.

Welcome to the club.

William Faulkner susie blog

 

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