When Can You Start Calling Yourself a “Real Writer”?

by Anne R. Allen

If you write and you’re not a wooden puppet carved by an old Italian guy named Gepetto, you’re a real writer.

I’ve read a lot of articles recently about what it means to be a “real writer.” Each one is based on a different definition of what a “real writer” is.

There’s the copywriter making six figures who gets ignored at a dinner party while people fawn over the novelist who’s making $400, because the guests think only a novelist is a”real writer.”

There’s the writer/blogger who wrote a piece on 3 hacks to make you a better writer, but one of his “hacks” is an outline that only works for a particular type of business writing. No mention of the fact that a novelist might be a writer too. (His other “hacks” are great advice, though.)

Then there’s the bestselling trad-pubbed novelist on a book tour who doesn’t feel like a “real writer” because she didn’t pay the usual dues of years of struggle–and her first novel became an instant bestseller.

I think most of us have had our doubts about calling ourselves “real writers.” I’ve certainly suffered through the “OMG I’m-not-really-a-writer, why-am-I-kidding-myself” blues. Former agent Nathan Bransford calls them the “Am-I-Crazies.”

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Most writers have been there



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