Am I A “Real Writer”?

The question is asked, internally at first, then externally, usually in response to some advice or anecdote about writing. One of the most common is “write every day” which gets responses about how that isn’t possible for everyone and the discussion moves away from the purpose of “write everyday” to something about “am I a real writer”— 

People seeking validation, but in the form of pushing against gatekeeping. But the gatekeeper here is, of course, ourselves. 

I’ve been writing since I was very young, telling stories longer. Writing poetry since I was 16, first published at 19. I started writing horror short stories when I was 22 and was first published (on horrorfind.com) at 23. I started my first novel when I was 17. I wanted to write epic multi-volume fantasy. 

Am I a real writer? I’ve not completed a story in over a year, and have only composed a handful of poems worth reading in the same time. I’ve got over a dozen half finished novel drafts on my computer archive, none of which are finished. 

I certainly don’t feel like a real writer no matter how I stack the statistics, the metrics, nothing I put together gets past the gatekeeper—me. 

I do write everyday, most every day, journal entries, sometimes little poems or scenes from stories. Writing everyday is about practice, it’s about using a skill so you get better at it. 

It is not about “real writer”–you can practice a sport everyday and not be a player. Writing everyday is just one of the things suggested because, statistically, you will get better the more you write. But, to push the sport metaphor, you still have to play the game. 

In this moment the game, for me, is finishing a thing, a collection of poems, a novel, a short story collection. The “game” itself isn’t so much publication, as it would be more commonly referred to, but instead bring to fruition a work of art. 

“Real writer” is a bad term. There is a difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer, but both are still writers. There is no marker or metric that defines ‘real.’ 

Then how do we, how do I, find validation? And for me the answer has always come to being read, which to do I would have to finish something. 

Are you a “real writer” if you write everyday? You tell me. What is it you are seeking? 

Because this is a journey, and no two people take the same path.

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