Recently at WDS I heard book marketer Tim Grahl say something to the effect of - "I'm not a writer, I just write a lot of stuff" regarding his realization that led to overcoming his personal, limiting belief about becoming a writer.
It really got me thinking about some things. Am I a writer? What's the case for and against look like? I love to write. Always write. Am (at least in my humble opinion) a fairly efficient & persuasive writer. Have been paid to write as a former news reporter, opinion writer, newspaper columnist. I've written literally tens of thousands of emails. Too many, in my opinion, I realized after giving up my ambitions to climb the corporate ladder. A lot of people have told me that I'm a good writer. I'm an effective communicator using words. I'm fairly comfortable and competent.
So what's the problem here?
Just like skill-development or mastery of most activities takes practice, so does writing. Nobody meditates for the first time and it's perfect. Want to be a professional baseball player? Better start throwing the ball around as a kid. Want to be an artist? Chances are pretty good your first work wouldn't be mistaken for something Bob Ross created. Want to be a nature photographer? Ansel Adams probably trashed many prints while honing his craft. Such is writing. The key is to write, to learn, to hone.
Of note, is that with writing, its real value and purpose can be open to a myriad of motivations and interpretations. Sure, some people may want to be the next Stephen King or James Patterson. Writers (of the like I'm discussing) want their words to be read and have the reader find value, inspiration or motivation within them. An there are the intrinsic motivations of the writer as well. You may have a story to tell. You may want to share ideas. You may want to inspire, encourage or motivate others. I think that's something that I've struggled with for years as I've fought becoming "a writer." Answering the question "where is this coming from" and "what value do I want others to find in this" are deep, important questions that I keep looking at as I move along this path.
There are no steadfast right or wrong answers to these questions, but the exploration and development my own drive, inspiration and purpose for writing has been extremely helpful in determining meaning to my work. (On a side note, do yourself a favor and read Thomas Moore's A Life at Work)
While what I write and why I write has changed, I've realized some things have stayed the same. Largely the resistance to writing. Today I'm aware and I'm taking action to overcome the resistance. First, starting this website as a place to write, be vulnerable, explore voice and my interests as an exercise solely in the journey of how I can grow. I'm rereading Steven Pressfield's The War of Art & Do The Work and developing writing disciplines. Discipline & routine is huge for me, and am in the process of re-working my post-summer life routine to better work my life.
Here's a concept that you may not be aware of that I feel plays a large role in the manifestation of resistance in my work or writers life. Read about it, see if it applies in any areas of your life. It's encouraging.
Imposter syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
This results in procrastination & fear-based inaction. The only way around the resistance is through it.
So, what makes a writer? Writing. I've realized that results, publication, acceptance or accolades are all irrelevant to the act of writing.
There is only one essential requirement to be a writer - to write.