A Writer’s Resolutions

Same old, same old. Get published. Make money.

What else is a writer going to say? After all, you’re not really a writer if you’re not published. And if you make money at your writing, well, then you’ve arrived!

If you’ve read my previous blogs you know that I don’t believe either of those “truths” about being a writer. But when I went to write my resolutions, these two items were right on the list. Why? Because it tells others that you’re a writer. They probably won’t believe you otherwise.

The first question I’m asked when I say that I’m a writer is “Where have you been published?” The unspoken question–or sometimes spoken one, if the asker is crass–is “Do you make any money at it?” Never mind that you write every day. Or that you made $700 in 1994 and only $600 since. You’re not a real writer unless you’ve passed these two tests, consistently.

You can’t change what other people think being a writer is. But you can change what you believe. Do you believe that you’re a writer? What do you believe qualifies you as one? Maybe you should stop following the crowd and emancipate yourself as a writer: Make the proclamation! I’m a writer. Do you even say that when people ask what you do? Or do you judge yourself by the standards of others?

Let me ask you this: do you write almost every day? Could you give up your writing? Are you passionate about writing? Does it make you feel good when you write? Do you learn anything from your writing? If you can say yes to every one of these questions, then you’re a writer, no question about it. If you can’t, you’d probably be better off developing another of your talents.

Maybe the only resolution that really makes sense for a writer is this: Believe in myself as a writer. You don’t have to resolve to write every day–you’d do that anyway. You don’t have to be published–you can’t control that. You don’t have to make money at it–that’s not really why you do it, is it?

Having said all this, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be published or to make money at your writing. If you must, put them down as resolutions. But if those are on the list, don’t forget to also include: Explore the markets. Develop writing ideas. Send out query letters. Join (or start) a writer’s group. Read a writing book. Take a writing course. But just remember, none of these activities qualify you to be a writer: writing does.