I'm beginning a long season of travel. Yesterday, I got home from California, where I had a few meetings and spent time with family. In July, I'll be in Portland for World Domination Summit (if you'll be there, let me know!). In August, there's Plywood Presents in Atlanta, and the Tribe Writers conference in Nashville, where I'll be speaking (you should come!).
What this means for me is that I have to explain what I do for a living a lot. It's not easy, at least for me. I am a writer, yes, but what does that really mean?
When I Say I'm a Writer, Here's How the Conversation Always Goes
“Oh cool. What do you write?”
“Oh, I do a bunch of things.” The vagueness is a poor attempt at modesty—I know how many people want to become writers.
“I ghostwrite books,” I continue, “write some of my own, and run a few websites. I'm working on writing fiction though.”
This is where I lose people. Wait, ghostwrite? What the heck is that. And hang on you can make money running a website?
Usually, the conversation steers toward an explanation of what ghostwriting is or talking about this blog. E.g. “So how do you actually make money doing that?”
I'm aware this isn't the best way to introduce yourself as a writer. I should say something simpler, something that sounds, I don't know, more confident?
But making a living as a writer is anything but simple. As nearly every full-time writer knows, you have to either have a smashing success or you have piece together a living from a thousand different angles to make a living as writer.
What I Really Do As a “Writer”
I could break down my income of how I actually make a living as a writer like some internet marketing guy (no offense to them), but so much of my work isn't paid.
In fact, I spend most of my day working on this website, editing the posts published every day, writing my own, or doing boring tech and administrative work on it.
Much of the rest of the day is spent staring at the emails you send me. Or at the emails I send you.
Is that a job? And how do I explain it to people? Should I explain it to people? Or just leave it at, “I am writer?”
Becoming a Writer
In my guide 10 Steps to Becoming a Writer, I said:
No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease to become, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.
If you don't know if you feel like a “real writer,” you're not alone. I often don't feel like one either.
I've written a couple books, a feat many people dream about but don't accomplish. I have the privilege of running The Write Practice, which has become a large, award-winning blog, mostly thanks to you, dear readers.
And yet I'm not satisfied. Not even close. Honestly, I even feel afraid of satisfaction. There's so much more I want to accomplish, and I worry that if I let myself feel content about what I've done, I'll never achieve my goals.
At the same time, I'm afraid I'll never be able to accomplish what I really want, and that this is as good as it will get. But mixed with that fear is shame since it's still more than many people get to do and shouldn't I be satisfied? It's all very circular and confusing.
The point is that I'm STILL becoming a writer. I'm STILL working out what kind of writer I want to be and how to make that happen practically. (Want to share that on Twitter?)
In the meantime, we will just have to keep writing.
Do you want to become a writer?
Speaking of becoming a writer, on Monday, we officially opened Becoming Writer, our premium community that helps writers finish their books and stories and get published.
One member told me recently, “Finally, I’ve taken the plunge. This community is one of the single best decisions I ever made.”
There are still a few spots left, and we'd love to have you.
We'll be closing down enrollment on Wednesday at midnight Eastern Time, but we may sell out before that. If you'd like to write more and get published, make sure to sign up for Becoming Writer today.
How about you? Do you still feel like you're becoming a writer? Let us know in the comments.
What could you do that would make you feel more like a writer today (e.g. finishing a story, writing a blog post, taking a long walk with your notebook, reading a good book, etc.)?
First, post it in the comments. Then, go do it! Don't forget to report back how it went.