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Becoming a Writer

When is a writer, a writer? It’s easy to call oneself `a writer,’ many do and yet their work may rarely, if ever, be published. So should they not use the title? Even if the sum total of their work consists of letters to the editor, snippets of a story that’s floating around in their mind, Amnesty letter writing, journaling, keeping a log when they travel, or any other activity that utilizes the pen or keyboard, they are writing, aren’t they? And if they do it regularly, so much so that it becomes a part of their lifestyle – even a few minutes a day – then if they want to call themselves writers, what’s to stop them?

In my opinion, writers are people who write, not exclusively people who are published. For many years I wrote short stories and was published in several international magazines, but I was reluctant to call myself `a writer,’ because I also had a day job that brought me in my regular income. I loved writing and dreamed of one day doing it for a living. I thought that when that day came, then I could start calling myself `a writer.’

Well, the dream is alive. I no longer have a day job and my sole income is derived from writing. And I call myself a writer. But when I look around me and see and hear so much about clever, witty, and talented people who write about all sorts of things and in different modes, and long to be an actual writer but are not yet published or have very few writing credits, I think, `Why not?’

If you are one of these people and you have it in your head that this is what you want to be, well go ahead, be a writer – there are plenty of hours left in the day after your day job is over. Give up the TV, or whatever else you do in the evenings, for say an hour a night and just write; join a writers’ group – most areas will have one and, if they don’t, start one yourself with a couple of like-minded friends. There are a zillion ways to become a writer.  Undertake a correspondence course, read about it but, most of all, do it!

What I do not advise, unless money is not a problem – it is for most but you may be one of the lucky ones with a high-earning spouse or a sugar daddy/mummy – is DO NOT give up your day job immediately. Success may come gradually but it generally takes a fair amount of trying and, yes, being rejected, before you are able to establish enough credibility to say, “I think I’m ready now, I can support myself with my writing.”

My advice to you, if you really want to be a writer – is to begin by calling yourself a writer. If anyone asks, you can say, “I’m a writer. Part-time at the moment but I’m hoping to make it my full-time occupation before long.”

You may find this way that it’s easier to stick with the day job and still give it your best, because you aren’t pining over something you’d rather do because you’re already doing it and, in the process, earning the right to say so.

Take it one step at a time. Becoming the next big thing overnight happens for some but not many. So, take your baby steps – write, learn, submit; write, learn, submit; and before you know it, with a determined commitment and right attitude, you’ll make it. You’ll finally be a writer.

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