5 Things that Kept Me From Becoming A Writer
Confession: I used to be scared to call myself the big W word… writer. I was petrified of calling myself a writer because I didn’t feel qualified to call myself a writer. I felt like I would be passing as a fraud if I told people that’s what I in fact was.
Instead of coming out with it, I would say things like, “I write a lot. I absolutely love to write.”
However I would never forthright come and say, “Yo hey! I’m a writer.” There are several major reasons why I never did, and I want to go ahead and talk about some the reasons why today.
1. I didn’t go to school for writing
I’m sharing this first because it was (and sometimes is, oops) my biggest insecurity. Due to immigration challenges I’ve not been able to return to college since Spring of 2011... You can do the math I’m sure.
Because of that, everything I know that is “conventional” about writing. I have learned it, truly, on my own. I haven’t sat under a professor and learned X, Y, and Z about writing and writing structure. I wasn’t taught by a teacher how to break down stories and bring out life from them. I wasn’t taught about prose and the entire list of writing jargon we could all go down.
All I had was my brain. A burning desire to change lives. And an overwhelming passion and heart to write. All I had (and still have) was a compelling drive to put the words to paper and do the thing. Write it down, and make it happen.
Listen friend, I was scared.
All the writers I know have degrees, and have gone to certain schools to accomplish their craft. Most of all the writers I know have had real professional teaching to craft their writing to the best of their abilities. I. Did. Not.
So for years, this was a major barrier for me. I didn’t feel like I was academically qualified to write. I didn’t feel like I had the right to call myself a writer. I felt like a fraud and it was terrible. I finally moved past it and realized that, despite my circumstances, I still have the right to call myself a writer. I shook off my mental insecurities and dove deep.
Now I have no problem saying the words, “I am a writer.” As a matter fact, I do so, sometimes, even with smile and *hair flip.*
2. I thought you had to be published
Y’all! I seriously thought that you couldn’t call yourself a writer if you didn’t have a book out in the world, published. I thought saying, “I’m an author” even though you have no books on shelves, was taboo. I was unaware of the phrase, “I’m a pre-published writer.” And YES, this. is. legitimate.
I had a faux belief that if I had the audacity to open my mouth and say, “Yes, I’m a writer… I’m an author” even though my book isn’t out yet, made me a fraud. I thought other writers would be offended and look down on me.
But they didn’t.
I was lucky enough to befriend writers who supported me and pushed me to get to where I am with my craft.
3. I didn’t think I was a good enough writer
True story, I have to combat this thought a LOT. I have to have conversations with myself and remind myself that, not only am I good enough a writer but others enjoy my writings as well.
I slowly had to start learning how to stop beating myself up so much. I had a very negative perspective of my craft and when I stepped back, I realized my view was sad.
People had more faith in my writing than myself. I had to grow from this and mentally level up. I had to learn to stop comparing myself to others.
Seriously y’all, I was thinking about writers like Cassandra Clare and crying my eyes out because I don’t write like her. You may think it silly, but that’s how I was because my faith lacked so much in my ability to write.
Because I thought my writing was garbage, I truly believed I wasn’t good enough to call myself a writer.
4. I don’t have perfect grammar
Ha. Ha. Ha!
EL OH EL.
Guys, I do not have the best grammar out there! At least not when it’s my work. I can spot grammatical errors like clockwork from the works of others.
But my own? Nope. It’s tough. I reread my work a lot doing my best for it to be the best, so eventually I end up reading the same sentences again and again thinking that there is nothing else to fix.
I felt like if you weren’t a perfect grammar nazi, then you had no right to be calling yourself a writer. My assumption was that all writers on planet earth had a perfect understanding of grammar, which is why they can so easily laugh at all grammar jokes…
Foolish, I know. I learned through my own growth that it’s not the grammar that makes you a writer, it’s the story within you that does.
And besides, if one’s grammar sucks that bad, thank God for editors eh?
5. I had zero confidence in my abilities
My self-esteem was L. O. W. low! It was really sad. I did not believe in myself whatsoever. I was going through a very tough season in my life that caused me to go through severe emotional mood swings.
And many of those mood swings kept me in a place of low self-esteem, depression, and low confidence in myself and in everything I did. It was so bad the uncontrollable emotions bled into my writing and work.
Sad huh? It was that overwhelming! I had no confidence. And I’m not talking about the, square-your-shoulders-lift-your-nose-like-you’re-better-than-everyone-else kind of confidence.
I’m talking about the simple, “Wow, Stephanie, this was actually really good. Nice job!” THIS is the kind of confidence I lost. The one that could look past the potential of the writing and be confident enough to say what was there was good enough.
I had to grow mentally. Once I started to love on myself and fall in love with my art, I was able to grow confident enough to say I in fact was a writer… and proud!
Let’s bring this home!
After reading these 5 reasons, I myself can see just how silly they are. They were no real reason to keep me from owning who I am: a writer.
I had to get over my insecurities in myself and just do the thing. It took serious self-realization to understand fully, “Hey, you write! You’re a writer and it’s OKAY to say so without feeling funny.”
It took me some time to get over the perfection over progress mentality. Nowadays it’s the reverse for me. I prefer to practice my art and abilities and grow with everything I have learned along the way.
Plus it’s so beautiful to me to see just how far my mind will stretch. How far my ideas will go. How deep my passion will grow.
The beauty now for me is watching my art take on a life for itself bringing me along on a journey not many get to go on.
All because I decided to own that I AM a writer and even though I may not have “everything else” other writers have, I have heart, passion and an unrelenting ability to pick up my pen and carve out a universe.
These silly reasons will no longer hold me back from fulfilling my greatest God-given gift of all.