Hi again , Leelans! Today is friday , which means Warden has posted another “Friday is for writers” post on her Facebook Page !
“Friday Is For Writers
Yes, you ARE a writer!
Over the course of my career, I’ve had a lot of folks come up to me and ask me for writing advice. I’m always stymied by what to say because the truth is, I don’t know where the people in my head come from, and I don’t know why the stories do what they do, and I have no idea how I got to be so lucky- but that’s another post. The point of today’s is that I am always shocked by the number of people who qualify themselves with the following:
But I’m not a real writer.
They come up to me in person, or drop me an email, or DM me on social, and they tell me all about the stories in their heads, and the chapters they’ve put on the page, and the manuscripts they’ve finished, and they cap all that off with the I’m-not-a-real-writer.
Inherent in that statement are a couple of things: 1) The belief that there is some kind of acceptance threshold that has to be surmounted before you get your Writer Badge. 2) Until you get that badge, you are subject to getting tossed out of the club by security. 3) The badge can be revoked at any time if you do not continue to write/get published/hit lists, etc. 4) Everyone who has a badge is judging you. 5) You are not allowed to take up space or own your own progress and efforts until some external force with a check list validates your experience and journey.
Let’s reframe this, shall we?
1) There is no f*cking Writer Badge. You do not need to be published to be a “real” writer. There is no “real” writer. If you put words to a page, you are a writer. We are all writers. If you write, you are a writer. It’s the verb that makes the noun, nothing else.
2) There is no security. No one can kick you out of the club because the club has no doors, no entrance, no rules. We are all the same. You, me, your bestie, your favorite author. We are in this together. We all type to get the stories out of our heads. It IS as simple as that. See reframe 1).
3) There is no threshold that has to be sustained. I know this market is really tough. I know that it will probably get tougher, and it is never going to be like it was. But as my mentor Sue (Grafton) always said, “Publishing’s been in the bad books for the twenty-five years I’ve had a career.” It is heartbreaking to have set backs. To find a following and see it challenged. To lose a publisher. To have your work in the hands of a business that is folding. To be stuck by old contracts, or lose new ones. But you are still a writer. See reframe 1).
4) No one has a right to judge you- and by this, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t accept constructive criticism that is valid and from trusted sources. I’m talking about the mean girl sh*t. If you worry too much about what other people think about you, you’re not just wasting your time, you’re sacrificing time you could be writing. Drama is distracting and counter productive. When you get to your last day, are you going to be glad that you wrote a book? Two books? Ten books? Fifty? Or are you going to be happy that you spent that time all in your head about what someone said or posted about you? This is not a dress rehearsal. Time is short. Use what the good Lord gave you wisely because you can be called home at any moment.
5) You, and you alone, have the right to define yourself as a writer. No one else does. This is a corollary to reframe 4). Do not let anyone else, or anyone else’s success, define you. YOU define you. We are all on our own journeys, and listen, success is great, and failure sucks (remember, I was fired from my first publisher, so I know what it’s like), and there is no way of ensuring the former and avoiding the latter. YOUR writing is enough. YOUR writing, at whatever level you’re at, is sufficient. Yes, we all want to be further ahead (I want to be Stephen King, for example. There is ALWAYS someone doing more, earning more, getting more.) Strive for excellence every day, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll be amazed about what that adds up to. And remember there are always going to be things outside of us that can undermine us. Why add to that burden? You can’t control that sh*t, but you can control yourself. Be your own champion, and know that any strength you find outside of yourself from other people is something they can take away. The strength WITHIN you is YOURS. Support is great. Personal grounding is better. So see reframe 1) and define yourself.
Well, I said a mouthful. But all of it is true. Please see reframe 1) one more time, and stop apologizing if you aren’t a multi-pub’d NY Times bestseller with 150 titles to your credit, a herd of unicorns in your backyard, and a chateau in France:
IT’S THE VERB THAT MAKES THE NOUN.
Believe, believe, believe. And magic happens in the real world.
Sending love and hugs from the frontlines, J.R.