Why is it that so many writers face self-doubt? I think it’s because writing is a solitary process that is so incredibly subjective. Writers are often too afraid to call themselves writers because they fear criticism of their work or of being bound by the antiquated definition of the term ‘writer’ reserved for those who write highbrow literary pieces - which is ridiculous.
In today’s online world writing is all about authenticity and perspective. People are sick of hearing from celebrities or politicians, they are seeking real writers who have an interesting perspective to share, that’s why I believe everyone should be encouraged to find their own voice and those who write should feel brave enough to call themselves a ‘writer’.
Now let’s discuss the notion of not feeling good enough, a brave and successful writer who is often slammed by critics for his work is Stephen King. I am currently re-reading Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir and I love it. King is an amazing writer, and although I don’t enjoy his books because I simply don’t like the horror genre, I think anyone who calls him a ‘bad writer’ is either an elitist or doesn’t understand the importance of considering an audience and the conventions of a genre. On that note, a thought-provoking anecdote King shares in his memoir hits the nail on the head – while discussing rejection, the bestselling author mentions a specific magazine that kept rejecting his short story and that the feedback given to him by the editor was: ‘this story is not for us.’ After King sold a few novels, he sent the same story to that same magazine and he, by his own admission, never heard those words again. I love that King shared that story and I love that he persisted despite the rejections.
I often think about people who judge a poem, a blog post, a novel or even a Facebook status update based on what they deem as ‘good writing’ or literary perfection. But here’s the thing, I believe to completely understand the beauty of storytelling and the craft of writing one must remember the purpose of different text types, that a target audience must be compelled to read the piece or at the very least feel something.
This leads me to a life-changing discussion I had with my daughter yesterday. While she was making loomband bracelets on our dining room table she turned to me and asked, ‘Mama, what do you think I should be when I grow up?’
‘You could always be an ice-hockey player?’ I responded absentmindedly from behind the kitchen counter.
My daughter chuckled. ‘Silly Mama, I already am! What do you think I do three times a week! Play ice hockey!’
So, there you have it, a seven-year-old answered the question I posed at the beginning of this blog post. Are you good enough to call yourself a ‘writer’? Well, if you write – you already are one! But I like the idea of trying to squeeze in at least three sessions of writing a week, you know, to keep up with the regime of those junior league ice hockey players.
I hope this post inspires you to write, choose your genre or platform and share your unique perspective! Start a blog, write a book, just do it! And if you do, let me know :)