What Makes a Writer?

Writers write. That’s what they do. Is that enough to be considered as a writer? Do you need to have a publishing contract or receive payment before you’re considered a writer? I think it’s simpler than that.

I believe there are four essential principles, that regardless of the size of your audience or the amount of money you make, will determine whether or not you’re a writer.

  1. Accessibility
  2. Habit
  3. Responsibility
  4. Attitude

If you’re aligned with at least three of these principles, then you can consider yourself a writer.

Accessibility

Do you write in public or keep it to yourself? If you publish your works in a post, a book, or another public medium for others to read, then you’re a writer. How else can you get feedback to help make you a better writer?

The more practice you get, the more your writing will improve. Along the way, you’ll find your voice and the tribe it resonates with.

Action Step: Publish your writing publicly in a book, white paper, a social media page, or a website

Habit

How often do you write? Is it regularly and consistently, or just when inspiration strikes? If you show up at a set time and place to write, then you’re a writer. How else will inspired ideas know when to seek you out?

It’s not the quality or word count that matters. Every writer has good and bad days. It’s creating the habit of writing that counts, showing up regardless. The quality and word count will naturally improve with regular practice.

Action Step: Set a time and place to write and stick to it for 30 days. This is the time it takes to develop a habit.

Responsibility

Do you have deadlines or commitments to meet, even if they’re self-imposed? If you have an audience, an editor, a publisher or someone else you’ll let down if you don’t produce the work, then you’re a writer. How else will you learn to focus your creativity under pressure?

Routine, structure, and strategy are your allies. Use them to determine the steps you need to take, and the timeframe involved. Your people are looking for you, even if you haven’t found them yet.

Action Step: Set yourself a deadline to finish your book or commit to a minimum number of posts per week.

Attitude

Do you believe you’re a writer and own it by telling others you are, or do you hide it for fear people will ask what you’re writing and judge you for it? Your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings will guide you to the answer. Only you can change it if necessary. How can you expect others to acknowledge you’re a writer if you can’t?

Yes, it can be scary saying you’re a writer, but it doesn’t mean you need to quit your day job and do it full-time. That can be something to work towards or build up to.

Being a writer means you write regularly and consistently, where other people can read your work, within a specified timeframe. If you do that, you can proudly call yourself a writer, because you are.

Action Step: Find evidence to support the case that you’re a writer. Look at the work you’ve already produced. Think about how many of the other three elements you already exhibit. Do the action steps. Make changes as needed to incorporate writing into your life.

Writing is a very personal experience. Different things work for different people. Work with these four principles to find what’s right for you.  Are there any other behaviors or qualities you think demonstrate you’re a writer? Share them below.

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