No matter if you’ve been writing for twenty years or if you are thinking about starting a book now – this is a question people will ask you, a question you’ll ask yourself again and again. What is a writer? How do I become one? What makes me a writer?
The answer is easy. If you like writing, no matter if it is fiction, non-fiction, fan-fiction, comics or the likes, then you are a WRITER.
It took me a while but I realized that being a writer has nothing to do with being published or even being good at it. Those are the end goals, the rewards at the end of the journey. Those are the things that keep us late at night behind the keyboard, the things that give us strength and ideas to push through. And I don’t mean it because of the money – unless you’re the next J. K. Rowling or Steven King it’s unlikely that you’ll make millions with the first book. Imagine the number of people your stories will touch, the number of lives they will change and the number of fans that will freak out the night before the release of your new book. Just imagine.
The lucky ones among us start out as storytellers. I remember I was five when I began making up fantasy scenarios for our games, giving everybody a character and a role to play. I could barely read then yet I was creating stories – simple, childish but mine. Then when I grew up a little I started writing fan fiction. It’s extremely liberating for those of us who are afraid our own ideas are not good enough or that others will laugh at us having ideas in the first place, or simply because we fell in love with a world and characters and at the end we couldn’t handle living outside of that familiar world.
None of those childish stories or fan fictions I wrote are good. I cringe every time I read through them and the desire to punch myself in the face burns within me stronger and stronger. But I keep them as a reminder that a great writer is not born, it is created through hard work and perseverance. Reading my writing today makes me smile and as arrogant as it may sound, reading the writing of other people makes me feel better about myself (I am not talking about well-established and world-renowned writers.) It is just an awesome feeling when you can see how much you’ve grown, how much your writing and your thinking – and your ideas! – have changed.
So for those of you who feel ashamed when they are asked what they like to do in their free time, for those who have spent hours and hours over their notebook creating a world of magic and adventure but being rewarded with laughter… just smile! Most people won’t understand you because most people have limited imagination or a different mindset. They think writing is a waste of time, a hobby at best, which should be put aside for work or school or whatever they think rates higher on the ladder of responsibility in their little, narrow world. But if that were true imagine a world without books or movies or music or any kind of art. If art should be a past-time, a hobby then how would those people who don’t understand it live? How many people go through their day without reading a book or turning on the Tv or listening to music? If there are no artists to bring color to our grey world what will happen to us?
Be proud of being a writer. Just like anything else you need to work hard, fail, get up and try again. As Richard Back said “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”