My father recently blogged about this topic. Occasionally, he has some good ideas. And, in the same way that I followed my father into the ministry (albeit for a very brief stint) and into writing, I thought I’d follow his blog post as well.
In his blog, he writes about asking people what they do. As writers, we’re often asked the same thing. “So what do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“No, really. What do you do?”
See, when people ask this question, what they’re really asking is “How do you make money?” For many of us (even those who have been published several times over), writing doesn’t always pay our bills. We’re forced to keep day jobs, or night jobs, or mid-afternoon jobs etc. Admittedly, this takes up a huge chunk of our time. Throw in family and friends, extra curricular clubs and activities, and the demands on our time can be overwhelming.
So how do we find time to write? Furthermore, why do we write at all? Wouldn’t it be easier to give it up?
I’ll say this. If you can give it up, you should. Really. Put down the pen. Move back from the keyboard. If you can give up writing, I dare say that the muse is not in you. Pardon me if I sound harsh, but his is what it boils down to: If you can give up writing, I’d rather not read what little you’ve written. Why? Because readers can tell when it’s not in you. They smell it a mile away. There’s nothing worse than heartless, soulless prose.
At it’s basest level, writing is ink on page (or words on screen in the digital age). It has no heart. It has no soul. Writers, like good little Dr. Frankensteins must put a heart and a soul into the writing. To do this, they take a little of theirs and put it into each work they produce. It’s no different for artists or musicians. Art breathes the breath, pumps the blood, and feels with the heart of its creator.
How do you know if you’re a writer? Give it up. If you can, you’re not a writer. If you can’t, you are.
So when someone asks you what you do, regardless of whether you teach High School English, or you’re a doctor, or a lawyer, or a minister, or a coal miner. Writing supersedes whatever you do to collect a paycheck. Say proudly, “I’m a writer.”
And if you’ve yet to publish anything, that doesn’t make you less of a writer. If they ask, “Have I read anything you’ve written?” Tell them, “Not yet, my friend.”