When you introduce yourself, which title do you use? Author or Writer? Do you even use a title or are you still hiding there on the sidelines, too afraid to lay a claim either one (is there difference between the two really)?
Because, once upon a time, that was me. I was too afraid to call myself a writer, despite the fact that I have been writing terrible poetry and Fan-fiction and writing in journals nearly my entire life. A part of me was afraid of what other people thought (“That’s not a real job, what do you really do?”), but the larger part of me was too afraid to use it because I didn’t think I deserved to call myself that, that I had earn such a title first.
That in order to earn such a thing, I first had to be worthy of it. I was still hung up on this notion that in order to be a writer, I would accomplish the milestone of writing and having my no doubt awe-inspiring novel released through a big-name publisher, and then eventually be brought before The Omniscient Council of Vagueness, a spotlight would beam down upon me, and they would melodramatically proclaim before all:
“I Now Declare you… A Writer!”
Fortunately or Unfortunately, that has yet to happen, but more importantly, I know that it never will. Jeff Goins talks about permission and about waiting to be picked, and he is bang on the money. If I spent all my time, sitting around waiting for permission, waiting to be picked, waiting for inspiration to come to me, I would never get any writing done.The truth of the matter is that the only Powers-That-Be that can turn you into a Writer or Author, is You.
And I know it sounds like a load of psycho-babble positivism mantra bullshit, but it really is a case of mind over matter. If you spend the majority of your time telling yourself “I can’t do this.” (the way I did), eventually you start to believe it. You start thinking it’s an impossible mountain, you’ll never get to the top so why bother even starting?
I know, I been there, I’ve done that. After watching the movie RENT, I didn’t write for three whole years. The life of an artist (the way RENT portrayed it) was something I wanted nothing to do with. Sure I wrote terrible Fan-fiction (and it is terrible, re-reading it made me want to gauge my eyes out), but I told myself it didn’t count, that the hours I spent plotting and scheming with someone else’s fictional world and someone else’s characters didn’t constitute as “Real Writing”.
Then I decided to enroll in the Certificate IV and Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at Victoria University. Then for three years while I spent my time brow-beating myself, while occasionally completing the Diploma and completing casual shift-work at my retail job.I told myself I was wasting my time, I told myself no one would actually read my work let enjoy it or pay me for it, I told myself I would never be good enough.
But most dangerous of all, I told myself that my classmates who spent time and energy into work-shopping my chapters were lying or trying to spare my feelings, they couldn’t possibly have enjoyed it, I told myself I would never get published.
The thing is that, despite my social anxieties and insecurities, none of this has truly stopped me. I just kept going.
This year I finally completed the Diploma and I’m moving on from TAFE to University with the Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries, and although I would like to think that the obtainment of a piece of paper is some kind of validation, I know I’m Writer because I have decided to be, and nothing and No-one can take that from me.
Does this mean the mountain has been climbed, the journey over? No, this is just the beginning and I know I have a long way to go. Are my insecurities defeated for once and for all? No, I know myself better than that. My insecurities while they are no longer shouting at me, paralyzing me with indecision, they are still present. It’s still a daily struggle, but one I can live with.
What are you biggest fears and obstacles with regards to Writing? Do you call yourself an Author or a Writer and why? Please let me know in the comments section.
Writing Courses available in Australia:
- Bachelor of Arts/Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing – Federation University
- Certificate IV and Diploma of Writing and Editing – Victoria University
- Diploma of Writing and Editing – RMIT
- Diploma of Writing and Editing – Swinburne