So you want to be a writer? Join the club.
Seriously. Becoming a writer is like joining an exclusive VIP club, complete with rules and initiation procedures.
What, you didn’t know that?
It’s okay. Think of me as your big sister (if we’re talking sorority terms - I wouldn’t know, I was never in one), here to guide you through the process.
Strap in -- let’s take a look at the 7 rules you need to follow to become a REAL writer.
Rule #1: You must write every day.
Everyone knows that in order to be a REAL writer, you must put your butt in the chair every day and write. Even if your muse has kicked you in the shins and escaped on vacation, you must put words on paper. (Or screen, since we’re in the age of technology now.)
Or there’s an alternative. You have a life, a full-time job, a family. You write when you can. Sometimes that means 14 hours on a Saturday. Sometimes it means once a month. Sometimes you may go six months without writing a single word.
You’re a real writer.
Rule #2: Your writing must pay the bills.
You’re not a REAL writer until you get paid. Whether it’s royalties from your latest bestseller or a monthly check from the ads on your blog, if you’re not supporting yourself with your craft, what are you even doing here?
Or you could be a responsible human and have a full-time job! Maybe you’re a waitress, and you write between shifts. Maybe you work in an office somewhere, sneaking in a few words on your lunch break.
Maybe you’re working on getting published, but you’re not quite there yet. Maybe you’ve never published a single word, but you love the act of writing, so you continue doing it anyway.
You’re still a real writer.
Rule #3: You must be organized.
You have an office dedicated to your writing. You have a fancy pen holder with your name on it, and a whiteboard to make plot notes on. You have an ergonomic chair to help your back when you spend hours sitting in it.
Or you have a laptop that you can sometimes find, sometimes not. You write on the train, at the library, in bed, at work. Your idea of story organization is the single bar napkin you wrote your original idea on.
Guess what? Still a real writer.
Rule #4: You must have a degree in English Lit.
You studied English extensively in college, both Literature and Creative Writing. You can recite the biggest authors dating back to the 1800's. Hemingway, Austen and Shakespeare are old friends.
Or you don’t have a college degree at all. You learned how to write from reading a ton of books. You’ve never read Shakespeare, nor do you want to. You wouldn’t know Hemingway’s writing if it smacked you upside the head.
Still a real writer.
Rule #5: You must drink copious amounts of coffee.
For you, coffee is nectar of the gods. You can’t write a word unless a steaming brew sits next to your keyboard. The baristas know you by name, and you have a regular order in the nearby coffee shop. You might even be a coffee snob, turning your nose up at cheap brews.
Or you despise the very IDEA of coffee. The smell, the taste, the breath… UGH! You run screaming from the nearest coffee shop, and you’d rather spend your money on sweets than brews.
Yep, still a real writer.
Rule #6: You must write what you know.
You follow the age-old rule and only write what you know. You have a vast array of experiences to choose from. Fiction or memoir, it doesn’t matter to you. You can do them all!
Or you find real joy writing what you don’t know. You love to imagine entire worlds, completely different from anything on Earth. You get a real high when you create something entirely new. The idea of writing what you know kills your creativity faster than a fly in a bug zapper.
You guessed it: Still. A real. Writer.
Rule #7: You must CALL yourself a writer.
This one is serious, folks… As long as you call yourself a writer, you ARE a real writer.
In case you didn’t catch on, there’s no special initiation procedures or any rules to become a real writer. It doesn’t matter how or where you write, where your inspiration comes from, if you’re getting paid, or even if you’re GOOD.
If you love to write, and you give yourself that title, then you ARE a real writer.
Join the club! The online community of writers is one of the most supportive, hilarious, and inspirational groups I’ve ever seen. Haven’t joined them yet? Use the hashtag #amwriting, #amediting, #writersofinstagram (if you’re on Instagram), and #writerslife. Follow other writers on their social media accounts. Join in on the conversation for support and inspiration.
Own your craft. Be proud of your calling. Shout it from the rooftops: “I am a writer!”
What’s your writer profile? Where do you fall in these “rules”? Let me know in the comments!