If you want to be a (better) writer…

If you want to be a (better) writer…

Ditch your definition of writer, please. 🙂 

Sooooo the dictionary defines a writer as “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.”

As a result, you probably think you can’t be a “writer” until you’re making money from it, or you publish an article, or you at least craft a FB post that sounds gorgeous and flow-y and polished.

But all of that is wrong.

Because there are TWO definitions of “writer.”

Definition #1 is really a job title.

In this sense, calling someone a “writer” is a way to identify people who have extensive training and practice honing their craft of the written word. Bonus points if they’ve been published and made money from their work.

(For the record, I fit this description. For the last 5 years, I’ve made money (~$40K, on average) as a professional writer—a copywriter and a journalist. For the last 17 years, I’ve been winning awards as for my creative writing—personal essays and true stories, sometimes told onstage. I tell you this because I am obsessed with myself want you to know I’m not just blowing smoke out my @$$.)

Definition #2 refers to a state of being, not a state of being seen as. It’s reality as defined by your inner radar, so ONLY YOU KNOW if it’s true for you.

So what is a “writer,” as defined by this liminal place of knowing?

A writer is someone who expresses his or her creative truth in words.

Maybe these words flow from the end of a ballpoint pen and glide effortlessly onto the page.

Maybe these words are painstakingly extracted from the diamond mine of your insight.

Maybe these words are spoken out loud to a camera or recorder or friend, then transcribed onto paper by a fleet-fingered VA or a dictation software.

The writer’s process works like this:

  1. An idea bubbles up from your creative unconscious.
  2. Words channel through the ether and manifest onto the page.
  3. Real or digital, typeset or scrawled, those words express your truth.

So who is qualified to be a writer?

Me: the working professional with a byline and a personal brand built around words.

You: a creative entrepreneur who wants to lead others using the power of your big ideas.

Spoiler: It’s any person called to share creative impulses through the medium of written words.

Painters paint. Singers sing. Bakers’ gonna bake bake bake.

But writers? Well. You know what we do. 🙂

Once you accept this second definition of writer, the truth becomes pretty clear.

  • You are a writer even if you prefer to speak your thoughts out loud.
  • You are a writer even if you never make a dime from it.
  • You are a writer even if you favor run-on sentences, or split infinitives, or you have no idea what I’m talking about in this sentence.

Of COURSE you’re a writer. You LOVE words and language. You have ALWAYS been this way.

So now it’s time to STOP INDULGING your inner critic’s venom.

(You know what I mean: You’re not good enough! You don’t have what it takes! Why in the world did you choose THAT word?)

It’s simply time to START.

  • Write in whatever way is easiest for you.
  • Follow your calling and actually express yourself through words.
  • Then—only then—should you focus your editorial brain where it matters (on each piece of writing, not you).

Ask yourself questions to assess and refine the quality of each piece of work you produce. 

  • Does this piece communicate my ideas clearly? Have I said what I meant to say?
  • Do I believe every word on this page? Is there anything I can delete?
  • Do I hear music in my word choice? Can I improve the rhythm or the flow?
  • Why will this piece benefit my intended audience? How can I make that clear?

It doesn’t matter if you write stories longhand, tippety-tap insights on your phone, or speak your ideas into being with the help of recording equipment.

You are still a writer.

So ditch whatever stuffy definition or arbitrary boundaries you’ve set for yourself.

Embrace the truth and take a deep breath. Because you’ve got work to do.

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