When do you call yourself a writer? How about an artist?
When do you devote yourself to pursuing the thing you dream of being?
Most of us want to do something different with our lives. Most of us want to write a novel, paint, act, something other than what we do for a living. We are, as the man once said, living lives of quiet desperation. Our world is artificial and we are desperate for authenticity. We believe that authenticity will come when we start writing, start painting, start acting, start travelling, whatever it is that is our bug, that is the thing that we know we need in order to be fulfilled.
There are a couple of problems with that. What do we actually want? I’m a writer – yes, I figured out for myself when I can call myself one and started doing it. Some people want to be authors. They want the ego gratification that comes from having their name on a book. That doesn’t mean they actually want to write books (hence all of the courses that claim you can be an author and not write – technically true but also complete bullshit). They want the ability to look at a book cover and see their name on it. Black Card Books and other vanity presses base their entire income on this fact.
The thing is, that’s not being a writer. If that’s what you want then don’t do it. Writing is hard work and there are a lot of sacrifices you have to make. I know, I’m in the middle of making them.
One piece of advice I keep seeing, and it’s one I agree with, is back yourself into a corner. Make sure you don’t have another choice. Pursue your dream or sink. Maybe you will sink, I mean, the world doesn’t come with any guarantees, but once you do back yourself into that corner you will go after your dream in a way that you could not have imagined before you did it. Once you have decided that the thing you are going to make a living is to pursue your dream and you cut off your other forms of support you will work so much harder than you could have imagined.
Last night I worked until three in the morning. I wrote and I set up my marketing. That’s it, that’s all I did yesterday. My Fitbit tells me I got well under a thousand steps.
Is this going to work? Is it going to make me the next great writer? Am I going to earn huge piles of money? Who knows. All I know right now is that I’m doing the work, I’m making my writing goals and then blowing past them. I’m back to writing a thousand words or more an hour and producing masses of content. I don’t know how many articles I wrote yesterday, but that was on top of working on Jenny Dark book 1 (book 2 is finished and edited). I didn’t actually eat real meals because I was so focused. Today seems like it’s going down that same path.
As to when to call yourself a writer… some people say you should call yourself a writer when you sell your writing. Some people say you should do it when you start writing something. Some people say it’s when you release a piece. For me, it’s when you start taking it seriously; when you decide that it’s something you are going to at least try and do for other eyes instead of only for yourself. I’ve sold pieces, I’ve self-published a couple of books and sold copies. I have a few reviews on Amazon and they are decent. I’ve made money as a writer (well, received money at least). I started calling myself a writer when it became clear I was actually going to finish my first novel. You get to decide that for yourself though. Just don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t make the bar some impossible thing to measure up to. You are a writer long before you are making a living as a writer.
That’s not to say I won’t pursue other freelance opportunities, I am open to contracts outside the writing and publishing world… I won’t do it as a full-time job again though. This is it, sink or swim.
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