I have a confession to make: I get jealous when some people call themselves writers. Don’t worry; I know that it’s stupid.
Writing has been my thing for as long as I can remember. I think I wrote my first short story when I was six – although I unfortunately don’t remember what it was about – and have been writing constantly since then. I wrote short projects for fun throughout middle and high school, completed my first novel my senior year, and then went on to major in English in college. That novel is now published and I have 3 other writing projects at various stages.
All of that makes me a writer. But it’s not the only thing that makes me a writer: I also write this blog, write some articles for magazines for websites, and blog posts for other companies. And while my background in writing might be a little unusual, the current writing that I do isn’t by a long shot. So why do I feel little twinges of frustration when other people call themselves writers?
The short version? Probably because I spent a large part of my life where being a writer was unusual. I didn’t know many people, if anyone, who called themselves writers, so when someone does now, my automatic reaction is to think, No they’re not. They’re not a real writer.
That reaction is a bad one and I think it goes back to the competitive nature of our world today. Someone can be a writer without it influencing if I am. I don’t have the same reaction when someone says that they grew up in Maine, went to Vanderbilt, or that they’re under 5’3″, so it’s probably time for me to quit having this reaction to the word “writer.”
I’ve been trying to change how I think about what makes a writer since joining the blogging world. The first time I read a blog post and someone call themselves a writer because they blogged – and I didn’t consider them to be a writer – I was shocked and a little angry. How can they claim that title? They doesn’t have the writing experience and background that I do!
Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not a writer. They write at least several blog posts a week, each with hundreds of words, and maybe have for years. Maybe they haven’t written a book, but maybe they write more a day than I do. And, at the end of the day, is it really my job to police how someone labels themselves? No, it isn’t, and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.
After all, the basic definition of “writer” is someone who writes. Maybe we can debate what qualifies as a published writer and if a blog counts, but at the end of the day, it isn’t my place to judge if someone else’s self-imposed title is accurate or not.
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