Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

Few of us have the courage or confidence to call ourselves writers. Instead we claim to be wannabe writers, novice writers, even “not really a writer, I just like to write.”

Accept it. If you write for fun, in a journal, or to enlighten others, you are a writer. If you write because you feel compelled to, you’re a writer. Some people have a message to share. Others want the characters in their heads to go live on paper!

I’m a nonfiction writer, so I want to share insights, and I hope to achieve that in this column. Fiction writers work a little differently. Either way, writers have questions, so this column will answer some of them. Email me with others, and I’ll be happy to address them personally or in an upcoming column.

Accept it. If you write for fun, in a journal, or to enlighten others, you are a writer. If you write because you feel compelled to, you’re a writer. Some people have a message to share. Others want the characters in their heads to go live on paper!

How Can I Call Myself a Writer?

If you write, you’re a writer. If you’re looking to sell your book or find a publisher, you might be a struggling writer, but you are a writer.

Writers tend to be overly critical of ourselves. We wonder who would possibly read our “stuff.” We think we’re imposters. I’ve known many professionals, and even those at the top of their fields who fear others seeing them as fakes. These experts are not fakes, but their self-doubt causes “imposter syndrome.”

Where Do I Find Other Writers?

Mention you’re writing a book, and you’ll find people all around who say they are writing too. Not all are dedicated to writing, and not all have the time or energy to devote to a writing practice, but people young and old write and enjoy sharing their writing with others. Look on Meetup for writers’ groups. Ask at bookstores or libraries. Search Facebook or the internet. You will find your people.

To go a step farther, look for critique groups. Previous columns expounded on this topic, and critique is good for writers. No one in the group is more entitled to express an opinion or has more valid thoughts. In a critique, participants give honest feedback in a polite way. They ask questions and note inconsistencies or confusing passages.

How Should I Organize All of My Writing?

File your writing so you can find it quickly if you have additional ideas or a piece fits the requirements for contests or submissions.

I know a woman who keeps her writing from the past fifty years or more in a suitcase. She has taken this collection of journals, novels, and short stories on all 27 moves. Yes, 27. She has a LOT to write about!

Maybe you like spiral bound notebooks or legal pads. Perhaps you prefer the feel of leather-bound journals. You might compose your writing on your computer because you type quickly or have unclear handwriting.

However you write, organize your work so you can find any of it quickly.

Do I Have a Chance at Winning Contests?

Contests are available far and wide. Some are well publicized, while others seem to be buried in the classified section with hundreds of other ads in six-point type.

Sometimes—and I know this to be true—people win a contest because they enter. Occasionally contests have no winners because no one entered. Other times, even if you don’t win, you can get helpful feedback from readers or editors. If you would like regular updates on contests and writing opportunities, subscribe to https://www.freedomwithwriting.com/. They email opportunities weekly.

Beware the cost of entry and the rights you forfeit if you win contests. Sponsors might publish in a magazine or anthology and ask you not to publish the winning work anywhere else for a year. But others want lifetime rights. You gain little benefit from paying to enter a contest, winning a small award and publication (depending on readership), and losing the rights to your work.

When you win, you can claim the award in your query letters and “writing resume.”

How Do I Implement These Lessons?

Writers are abundant, but they are usually introverted or too focused to reach out. Start looking around. Mention that you write. Watch people come into your life. If you can’t find a group, create one. Then stay as long as the group is beneficial.

I challenge you to find three other writers by the end of the month. Email me if you met the challenge, and give me a few details.

Beth Crosby

Copy Editor / Writing Coach

Beth Crosby is a copy editor and writing coach with a background in newspaper journalism. She tells writers, “Never publish your first draft!”

Beth works with writers, authors, and publishers. Her goal is to empower writers to share their messages by bolstering and encouraging them through writing coaching and editing. She believes that published blogs, articles, and books should be clear, concise, correct and consistent. Contact her today at beth@editorbeth.com to see how she can help you.

“If you want your next project to be as polished as possible, I can ensure readers remember your manuscript, message, email, blog post, or other writing project for its quality and clarity, not its errors.”
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