Becoming a Real Writer

It’s hard to feel the confidence to say you’re a writer. I often said I like to write, but never really said I was a writer. Even when I started writing a book, I still didn’t call it a book. I called it a story or manuscript at most.

Recently though, the more I write and the more people ask what I’m working on, I started saying, “Oh, I’m writing a novel.” The first time those words came out of my mouth without any hesitation took me for a loop. When had I made the tranistion from hobby writing to writer?

As I think about the transition, I realize it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took place over the course of years of honing my craft and practicing the skill. It started as, I like to write, then changed to, I am writing stories and poems, until eventually it turned into I’m working on a manuscript.

The day I first said out loud, “I’m writing a book,” I knew I had arrived at the next phase. I am a writer. What a thrilling and yet nerve-inducing feeling it was. To speak the words, “I am a writer,” is no small feat. Ridding myself of the imposter syndrome has taken years, nay, decades, of hard work.

So, when do you know you’re a writer? When do you know you’re a real writer? The answer is: there’s no formula. It’s different for everyone. The idea of “real” before a label is arbitrary. For me, it happened when I stopped being scared of what people would think if I said, “I’m a writer, but I don’t have any big, famous publications.”

Others may never publish anything at all and consider themselves writers. That’s great. The truth is, only you can define yourself. If you want to call yourself a writer, then you’re a writer. Don’t let others’ expectations or standards sway you from your path.

What about any other fellow writers out there? When did you start to consider yourselves “real” writers? What does being a writer mean to you? Let me know in the comments!

How to Save Yourself from Reading and Writing Slumps During Times of Crisis

A couple of weeks ago my grandmother was in a car accident. This left her badly injured and in need of constant care for a week. Since I’m currently unemployed, the responsibility fell to me, which I don’t mind. I mean, I’m home. What else am I doing?

A couple of weeks ago my grandmother was in a car accident. This left her badly injured and in need of constant care for a week. Since I’m currently unemployed, the responsibility fell to me, which I don’t mind. I mean, I’m home. What else am I doing?

What also happened along with the responsibility was a huge impact on my writing productivity. I know, not as important, but the thing is, I started the year so strong and was excited to only keep going up from there. Taking care of my grandma though for 8 hours was like a full-time job that left me so burned out I could barely think enough to get much writing done.

This had me worried, because once I start working again, will my writing go on the backburner again? I know the last couple of years were rough because of a full-time job coupled with school, but I thought once school was over, and with just a full-time job I’d have more time to write.

Now, it’s not a matter of time, but of energy. I do need to keep in mind that working in an office is not the same as caregiving for an elderly person (especially one as stubborn as my grandma). The emotional labor is really what wiped me out most. Even so, I didn’t want to end my streak of writing at least a little every day, even if it was just 100 words.

I started scheduling small writing tasks for myself through exercises. I also checked myself whenever I felt overwhelmed with the low numbers from day to day. I had to remember that I was performing a task that takes a great deal of mental and emotional energy, not just physical.

So, instead of thinking of my writing in terms of falling numbers, I focused on what I had accomplished. Little by little, I started setting goals for myself again and that made me feel much more productive than fretting over how much I hadn’t written.

I also challenged myself to keep up my writing numbers over the weekends, when my parents were home from work to help with taking care of my grandma. I spent three hours at the library this past Saturday and accomplished a great deal of writing that I had not done during the week. Thinking of it as spreading my numbers for the week to have the majority done over the weekend also helped assuage the guilt.

The interesting thing about my circumstances for the past couple of weeks is how much reading time I’ve had. Spending so much time keeping my grandma company when I wasn’t helping her with daily tasks left me the time to dig into more reading.

However, that reading was definitely limited to lighter, “fluffier,” reads. I could only concentrate on novels or comic books that didn’t require my full attention. Like I said, that emotional and mental labor of caregiving is exhausting, and I only had to do it for two weeks. I commend the people who do that for a living. Shoutout to all the moms out there. It’s a tough job.

I didn’t get too down on myself for not reading more mentally challenging pieces, because I knew I was still reading.

The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to reading and writing when life throws you curveballs and your routine changes, is to make attainable goals that coincide with the time and energy allotted.

More important than that, go easy on yourself. Remember that there’s more to life than books and writing, and those things will always be waiting for you when you can get back to them.

Where to Go to Write

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I’ve been trying to find new environments to place myself in for getting writing done. I don’t currently have an office space in my house (that’s changing soon though!), so I just make a little nest for myself in my bed using a pillow chair, blankets, and stuffed animals. It’s not the most comfortable though for a writing session that goes on for more than 2 hours.

My go-to location when I’m getting cabin fever is my local library. I find an empty desk or table near an outlet (for charging when I get low battery), and set to work. I’ve found that the moslty quiet with faint noise on the first floor of South Regional does wonders for my focus. I have just enough stimulus to keep me energized, but not so much that it distracts me from the task at hand.

I don’t always want to stay indoors though when writing. That’s when I go to the beach. However, those sessions don’t tend to last very long, because living in the Sunshine State, the glare on a screen makes it near impossible to see what I’m doing. I try going with good old-fashioned pen and paper, but the beach is a windy place, even on calm weather days.

Of course, I’ve done the cliche coffee shop writing session, be it Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. DD is my usual go-to for these outings as it’s much closer to me than my local Starbucks. The problem with this though is that I don’t feel comfortable staying at a place like that for so long without frequently buying something, because I know I’m taking up valuable real estate that could be used for other patrons. And there’s only so many pastries and so much coffee I can consume before I explode.

This brings me to the question I want to ask my fellow writers: Where do you to go write? I can’t think of other environments to try out for a good hours-long writing session. I’m open to places that don’t have access to electricity, as I can always bring a pen and journal with me for some old-school writing. I just need some suggestions for new places to go for writing. Let me know your ideas in the comments!