What makes a writer?

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.

The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it - the more fear you will feel,
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

 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.


This was not supposed to be the plan...

On the 3rd day in, I failed. I've been caught in a period of inaction and reduced desire, fear and anxiety over how to restart this writing project. I've decided that the best way to restart the 31days writing challenge is to just start with this admission.

I could talk and talk about how i've been out of town for work, haven't had anything to write about or blah, blah, blah...but those are all just justifications and rationalizations. And i try not to do that anymore today, which made for an interesting interaction when I got pulled over last month and had to just simply admit that I should have been paying better attention to the speed I was going.

I could tell you about how i've checked to see if I could manipulate the publish date to make it look like I'd succeeded in writing & posting everyday. I could do a ton of this, but i won't. 

What i'll do instead is to learn from this process and embrace opportunities to become better. A better steward of my time. More committed to my commitments. More resourceful in capturing ideas when i have them throughout the day (of which there have been many).

But in the end, it doesn't really matter anyway because I'm writing this for me, not for anyone else. Any excuse I make is to myself, not to any readers (of which there are few anyhow).

So, this will cover days 3, 4, 5. I'll attempt to right this train tomorrow and write in a timely manner about something. What? We'll see. I'll be traveling back over the mountains tomorrow, then am going to see Everest and get some books back tomorrow night. 

I've admitted and accepted my imperfection on this one, my failure and now all i can do is learn from it.


Write for 31 days? Let's give it a go!

October's a busy month for me. Lots of work deadlines and I'll spend about a 1/3rd of the month on the road traveling. So why not throw another thing in there.

I'm going to commit to 31 days of writing. Specific for this thing, for this purpose. We all write everyday, all day. We email, text, journal, create content, post to social media - but i'm committing to this thing.

Who knows what i'll write. I'm going to meditate & pray on it each morning and we'll see what words come out together. It's gonna be interesting (at least for me) to say the least.

If you want to try it with me, check the 31Days writing challenge. If i had to guess, it's probably going to be largely about nature, quiet and creating space in my life, my journey toward essentialism and pursuing less, likely some ruminations on self-reflection, on choices and direction and who knows what else. 

Have any questions for, shoot me a note. Don't want to do that, join this silly little Facebook group called Great Minds Book Club I started because i couldn't get anybody to do an in person book club.