I know a lot of writers. For the last decade I’ve run a writer’s group, led workshops, given lectures and worked as a Story Coach in Atlanta. Among these writers are people working away at novels, screenplays, poetry and other forms of prose.
The common thread among these individuals is the choices they make. Those choices define what it is to be a writer. No matter who they are, what kind of background they come from they all choose to make writing part of their lives.
And one more thing is true; when asked (and I do ask this as soon as anyone joins the group) I expect each and every one of them to say “I am a writer.”
You may not be a writer IF:
- You hate being alone
Writers spend a lot of time alone. If you enjoy spending time with family and friends without the distraction of completing a task called a first draft then by all means, use “I have a life” as your excuse.
No one will blame you. (As long as you stop saying you’re writing a novel)
- You don’t like criticism
If you write something be prepared to have someone read it. Be prepared to have strangers read it. Those strangers are the people who buy books. If you only want praise for what you write you might consider sticking to those long letters you can send out on holidays.
Those are always a hit.
- You are a people pleaser
Kingsley Amis said:
“If you can’t annoy somebody there’s little point in writing.”
Nice characters that produce little conflict make for a boring read. When scenes end with everybody getting along why not journal instead?
And that memoir?
It might be tough if you have to hold back when the purpose of writing a memoir is the exact opposite.
- You’re impatient
What if your first few chapters aren’t going so well?
Or the middle of the story gets muddy or tangled up
How about if your ending keeps slipping away?
What happens if your great idea, the one everybody said was a surefire bestseller, can’t get written?
How long does it take to write a novel anyway?
If you’re a writer?
As long as it takes.
- You don’t read
Stephen King said:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
I have met them and I’ve tried to coach them. I don’t know where to begin. If you want to write fiction you need to read fiction.
The pure living ooze of what you want to imbibe is in the literature of the last century.
There are loads of skills one can acquire without any prior knowledge.
No skill is acquired without discipline.
Writing is a craft and it requires discipline and hard work.
Of course. But I always say you will never know if you have a bestseller unless you write it.
If you really want to know for sure if you’re a writer, go ahead and write that novel. Finish it. It’s a feeling hard to describe when you write the words “The End.”
Good writing, and don’t quit.
Christina, for, PenPaperWrite
Need help with that first draft? If you are in Atlanta on December 10th join in our 60 Scenes ONE-DAY WORKSHOP. You can register here –> www.60scenes.com
If you are not in Atlanta, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to talk to you about bringing the workshop to you.