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Many writers struggle to accept who they are. For many, writing is more than a hobby or a talent that we eventually "grow out of". We grow up writing in school and become adults who long for the nostalgia of popping into a fantastical world of our own creation. Sooner or later we all find ourselves asking the vital question: Are we a "real" writer?
When Alina Wells, the CEO of Writing It Wells, first started writing, she did it because she loved it. She wrote because it was fun, a way to pass the time, and because she couldn't seem to help it.
In high school she wrote for the school's newspaper. In her spare time she brainstormed book ideas and started writing manuscripts. By the time she went to college she was learning the art of journalism and creative writing while gaining experience in the field. She wrote for her college newspaper, some local magazines, and published an essay in a local literary journal.
Although she was doing all this writing, she struggled to call herself a "real" writer. In her mind, she grappled with self-doubt and the line between when one becomes an author. She often felt that she wasn't worthy of the title until she published a book. This mindset proved to be detrimental to her overall writing and to her creative self-esteem as a writer.
When she realized her perspective was holding her back, she worked to change it. She took a step back, looked at what she already accomplished, and stopped pursing harmful ideas of perfectionism and comparison. She realized the only requirement of becoming a writer is to be writing. That's it! As long as you're writing, you are qualified to call yourself a writer. If you have aspirations to publish a book, that makes you an author.
With this epiphany, she decided it was time to acknowledge that she was a writer. A real one. And with that acknowledgement came a sense of freedom and authority that she had never felt before. Now when she defines what a "writer" is, she thinks of the following:
You May Be a Writer if...
1. You Love To Read And Hoard Books
It should surprise no one that the first category requires literature and a love of reading it. You can't expect your writing to be any good if you don't read, after all. If you're a writer who loves the written word, no doubt you've got a collection tucked away someplace in your home. Whether it's under your bed, displayed proudly on shelves, or placed in convenient stacks for you to grab on your way out the door, your love of reading knows no bounds.
2. You Think About Writing Constantly And You Follow Through
The next logical step is that you love writing as much as you love reading. You've been inspired to write a novel of your own and you've been actively developing your story. Writing consistently is an important part of being an author. Clearly, in order to publish you must first have completed a book. This is why we consider anyone who is aspiring to publish as an author, rather than giving the title only to those writers who have completed their goals.
3. You Have Vivid Dreams That Turns Into Plotlines
Chances are that your dreams have largely contributed to your writing. Many wonderful novel ideas trace their births back to dreams and daydreams. If you've come up with an idea through this method rest assured there are plenty of other novelists who have done the same. Through development and planning your idea can easily evolve into a full novel idea.
4. You Find Yourself Eavesdropping On Stranger's Conversations
Eavesdropping in public places can be an excellent way to come up with a new story idea or a plot twist. It can also add to your character building, as you can find traits and characteristics of real people and apply them. A juicy piece of gossip, a dramatic reveal of a secret, or even an interesting person can provide more than enough inspiration.
5. After Meeting Someone You Start Thinking They Would Make An Interesting Character
Jumping off the last paragraph, sometimes you meet someone who resonates with you. You find this person magnetic, interesting, and the perfect template for your main character. You know that later when you get home you're going to sit down with your laptop and begin writing from their perspective. Copying is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
6. You're Interested In The Literary Industry
Generally speaking, if you love writing as much as you say you do and are interested in someday being published, then you should probably have an interest in the literary industry itself. Keeping up-to-date with industry news, such as new releases, popular trends, what critics and reviewers are saying, and who the hottest bestselling authors are will only benefit you later on. The biggest benefit is that by connecting with other like-minded individuals online you'll eventually build a community of writer friends who can help you through all the ups and downs of being a writer.
7. You Look Up To Other Writers
Many of us idolize other authors. Whether it's Sarah J. Maas or Stephen King, or even just our writing peers, having role models to look up to and emulate can help motivate us. We can learn so much from analyzing and enjoying the work of other writers, whether it's through syntax and descriptive imagery, characters that capture our hearts and imaginations, or simply a fantastic book cover.
8. You Loved English Class And Did Well
Earning A's in English and looking forward to AP Literature back in high school seems like common ground for most writers. English is often a writer's best school subject (or at least the preferred one). Many of today's authors got their start in these classes, as they tested their knowledge and understanding of the craft and language we love so much.
9. Your Ultimate Dream Is To Be Published
It doesn't even matter to you where you get published, as long as your dream comes true! Publishing is the lifelong goal and biggest dream you have. To see your novel come to life and make it's way into the hands of others would undoubtedly be the greatest moment of your existence.
10. You Have A Lucky Pen
We all have that one special pen that is near and dear to our hearts. It's the only one we'll write with and once it runs out we still hang on to it as a reminder of all our hard work and dedication. If you write a lot, you may even have an entire collection.
If these 10 things sound like you, then rest assured you are a "real" writer. It's time to own your legacy and write with pride.
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