Writing Doesn’t Make Us Writers

Everyone who used to daydream about being a writer or musician or artist now suddenly is one by simply doing a little of it and telling people about it. As a blogger, I’m as guilty as anyone. This is the dark side to picking yourself. The means of production and distribution are available to everyone now, often free or nearly so. This is mostly a good thing.

The part that few people understand is that writing/creating things without practice, craft, editing, etc. doesn’t result in anything of value. At least with music, we have to practice a little to pick up a guitar and claim to be a musician, which keeps a few people from being able to claim musicianhood. Similarly, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but it’s tough to make that claim that without actually having started and run a business of some sort at least for a while. However, people talk and write emails all day and decide that they’re writers, that they deserve to wear a hat, smoke a pipe, and collect checks from hordes of admirers. “Look at me, I’m a writer.” Don’t believe that. Don’t worry about being known as a “writer” or “musician” or whatever. Instead, if we want to be writers, then we must write, and write well. If we want to be musicians, we must play good music. If we want to be entrepreneurs, we must create and launch game-changing products. And when we do create something of value, then we deserve to get paid for it. Others will naturally begin to label us writers, musicians, or entrepreneurs, but we shouldn’t concern ourselves with that.

Ryan Holiday says our work is the only thing that matters.

Neil Gaimmon tells us to make good art.

Steven Pressfield extolls the virtues of turning pro, which means, among other things, getting paid for our work. In other words, we’re not serious about being “writers” until we get paid for writing.

None of these thinkers said to post two blog posts and call ourselves writers.