Internalise the identity

I dislike the term “aspiring writer”. You see it a lot in people’s social media profiles, but to me it seems noncommittal. Either you write, or you don’t. And if you do, please have the guts to say so. If you want to be a writer, don’t wait to be asked. Nobody’s going to say, “Hey kid, would you like to be a writer?”. You have to become one all by yourself. Start thinking and acting like one. Say to yourself, “I will look at the world the way a writer looks at the world. I will react to things the way a writer would react. When people ask me what I do, I will tell them I’m a writer. And when it is time to write, I will write like a writer.” Life’s too short to fuck about wasting time. Internalise the identity. Don’t be a person with a job who writes in their spare time; be a writer who has a job to pay the bills while they learn their craft.

Next, convince yourself you can write, and then be confident enough to get some words on paper. And if your first attempts suck (and they probably will), have the balls to stick with it: keep learning, keep refining, keep improving. There are no short cuts; you have to sit down and do the work. You have to have the confidence to produce a finished manuscript, and the humility to take criticism from readers, agents and editors. You have to be arrogant enough to believe that the world wants to hear what you have to say; but if you’re too arrogant, nobody will want to work with you. Believe in yourself, but not to the exclusion of all else. Believe that you are a professional writer, and act like one. And what do professional writers do? They write. They put the work in. They strive to improve, to make every story they write better than the one they wrote before.

Aspiring writer? I’m an aspiring millionaire, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever be one. Take yourself seriously. You might be unpublished, but if you believe in your heart that you’re a writer, say so. Declare to the world that that is what you are, and act like it. Don’t wait to be asked. Find your calling. Find a way to make it work. You won’t get a second chance.

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    1. Cheers Gareth, inspiring advice and straight to the point. Life is indeed too short, best to just go for it!

    2. Michela says:

      Words to live by, Gareth!

    3. Paul Melhuish says:

      That was great. Inspiring and encouraging and true!

    4. Gareth L Powell says: (Author)

      Thanks Oliver, Michela and Paul. I’m glad to have inspired you!

    5. I will never forget the first time I read something along these lines. I sat for a long while, taking it in. Then, something inside me strengthened, hardened.
      Since then, I have “done what needed to be done” and taken criticism in stride, even looking forward to it!
      I write fantasy and I get a lot of people who say things like, “You need to face reality”, “I prefer the real world” and “You must have a great sex life!” I have found that people are going to come at you from where they are, no matter what you do. I smile at each of these replies and say, “Wonderful!” Then, I turn my attention to something more constructive then an explanation or argument.
      Several of those people have come around lately and asked how the “writing thing” has been going. I smile and tell them, “Warrior Crone will be released on May 28th.”
      I have done all of this because I AM a writer. It is not JUST what I do, it’s a part of who I am. Whether people read it or not, I am still a writer. I am not saying that I don’t get excited and all kinds of nutty when someone reads my writing, I do! I, literally, squeal and do a happy dance (which makes my boyfriend laugh!), but I wrote for years (30 +) without anyone reading it! I continued to be who I was, hidden away from the world afraid they would not LET me be a writer.
      I hope this helps someone. I hope someone can read this and get a little stronger in their internalizing of being a writer. No one will believe in you, if you don’t believe in yourself!

    6. Gareth L Powell says: (Author)

      Hi Jen. You’re right: we have to convince ourselves before we can convince anyone else. And sometimes, the only way to convince them is to keep writing, keep striving, until they understand. Best of luck with Warrior Crone. :-)

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