Am I a Writer?

Upon having an idea for a book or short story, one of the first questions many people ask themselves is: am I really a writer? They may have a plot, or perhaps a character begging to be brought to life, but they also often have a day job, a wife/husband, kids, mortgage, and in some cases, all of the above. The focus and commitment required to actually complete a novel can be overwhelming, prompting many people to ask themselves if they truly have what it takes.

'I figured if you liked the first paragraph I'd go ahead and finish the book.'Years ago when I was taking writing classes at UCLA Extension, I met many people pondering this question. In fact, every class was full of them. As I explored the depth of this topic on their behalf as well as my own, it occurred to me that most of us fell into one of two categories: (1) those that wrote whenever they had time; whether it was in the mornings before the kids went to school, during lunch breaks at work, or late at night when everyone else was fast asleep, and (2) those who weren’t actively writing and were taking the class in the hopes that paying for a course would motivate them to finally sit down and get to work on the idea they’d been carrying around in their heads for so long.

These two, roughly defined categories reminded me of my youth, when I use to be an avid basketball player. For over twenty-five years, I religiously showed up at the local gym, played for hours, and only went home when the gym closed or there was no one left to play with.

Back then basketball was in my blood. I’d never make it to the pros, but being away from the court for more than a few days still felt like a tangible pain—an ache deep inside me that could only be quenched by throwing on my Nikes and sweating it out on the hardwood.

In order to truly be a writer, you need that same type of passion. You need a hunger for words to carry you through the stretches were you’re not quite sure what comes next. You need the determination to stick with the story even when it’s hiding (For more on this topic, see my blog about the Pool).

And just like basketball, you need to work to get better. Just as I practiced lay-ups and jump shots, dribbling and passing, a writer practices by studying other authors and by writing and rewriting—constantly finding new, creative ways to express their ideas.

cartoon.writer'sblock.GinaIf you truly have the passion, you write regardless of your circumstances, just as I hobbled around the basketball court countless times with a bum shoulder or sprained ankle I’d twisted only moments earlier.

When it comes to the two types of people who want to be writers, the distinction is simple: one group finds a way, the other doesn’t. If you find yourself not writing, then chances are you aren’t a writer at heart. You may have the talent, but not the drive to sustain you. On the other hand, if you find yourself compelled to write regardless of skill or circumstance, then there’s a good chance it’s in your blood. In that case, keep going!

Remember: no one is born an expert. You need passion to carry you through the long journey to acquire even a modest level of expertise. The more you write, the better you become and, the better you become, the easier it will be to finally tell that story you’re carrying around inside you.

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About R Scott Boyer

Scott Boyer grew up in Santa Monica, CA and still resides in the Los Angeles area. Graduating from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 1996, he started writing Bobby Ether And The Academy with the goal of blending YA fantasy with spiritual fiction. Nowadays, Scott splits his time between helping his father manage an insurance brokerage, playing with his Shepherd-mix rescue dog Patch, and writing the sequel to his first book, the soon to be released Bobby Ether and the Temple of Eternity.
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12 Responses to Am I a Writer?

  1. Reblogged this on Florida Writers Conference Blog and commented:
    Hello, again! I hope you’ve all been having a great week and have been getting some writing in! I have the next part of my series of posts on ways to save in the publishing/promoting process coming, but I wanted to share this with you in the meantime.
    I love the message of this post. It reminds me of what Whoopie Goldberg said to one of the students in Sister Act: If you wake up every day thinking about singing, you are a singer.

    Too often, we come across the idea that unless you are published by a big house and making lots of money off of your book, you’re not a “real” writer/author. I couldn’t disagree more. As long as the ideas are getting written down and you’re putting some time into your writing, you are a real writer. Hang in there and enjoy the process! Let it be about the love of it, not about the result.

  2. For the past twelve to thirteen months I have become a total book nerd, managing 4-6 books at a time. This book reading process has led to writing reviews for the books I have consumed, along with some poetry writing.

    I new something was wrong with me when over a six to seven month period I consumed several creative writing classes, in the traditional class room setting and online to learn as much as I could about the writing process.

    My writing is geared to short stories and poetry, with most of my ideas created before 6:00 am. There have been times I read more than I write, and I feel guilty and sadden on days I don’t write all.

    Recently, my short stories and reading have been sidetracked because I have focused my attention on blogging especially the daily prompts. I now write everyday, spending time on my short stories while reading blogs about the writing process.

    As the month of September has begun, it marks the thirteenth month since this journey of discovery has begun and I’m finding a comfortable balance between writing poetry, writing short stories, blogging, reading several novels and continuing my creative writing education. So I think I’m an aspiring writer?

  3. Reblogged this on Retirement Lifestyle Blog and commented:
    For the past twelve to thirteen months I have become a total book nerd, managing 4-6 books at a time. This book reading process has led to writing reviews for the books I have consumed, along with some poetry writing.

    I new something was wrong with me when over a six to seven month period I consumed several creative writing classes, in the traditional class room setting and online to learn as much as I could about the writing process.

    My writing is geared to short stories and poetry, with most of my ideas created before 6:00 am. There have been times I read more than I write, and I feel guilty and sadden on days I don’t write all.

    Recently, my short stories and reading have been sidetracked because I have focused my attention on blogging especially the daily prompts. I now write everyday, spending time on my short stories while reading blogs about the writing process.

    As the month of September has begun, it marks the thirteenth month since this journey of discovery has begun and I’m finding a comfortable balance between writing poetry, writing short stories, blogging, reading several novels and continuing my creative writing education.

    So I think I’m an aspiring writer with a lot of passion.

  4. Lori D says:

    Thanks for sharing that great analogy between basketball and writing. I often tell new writers that join my writer’s critique group who question themselves after a harsh critique … they have to practice … like learning the piano. Someone may have a passion for music and the instrument, but they will only become good with practice. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a writer, we just get better as we go along. Good post.

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