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Are You A Writer?

By Ruth Barringham

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Over the years I’ve come across so many people who say they are writers but they aren’t. They’re people who think that being a writer means not having a job and staying at home every day.

But the opposite is true. Even though writers work from home, it involves a lot of work. It means sitting down and writing every day, whether you feel like it or not. It was Stephen King who said “Your muse doesn’t show up for work until you do.”

So the question is, are you a writer or just someone who says they are but never seems to get any writing done?

If you’re still not making it as a writer, here is an assessment test to help you decide if you really are a writer or not.

Below is a list of questions. Answer yes or no to each one and then I’ll show you if you’re really a writer or not.

  • Do you love to write?
  • Can you sit alone and write every day?
  • Are you good at planning?
  • Are you good with money?
  • Can you live frugally/simply?
  • Can you solve problems alone (tech, outsourcing or deadlines)?
  • Are you self motivated?
  • Can you handle pressure?
  • Can you work unsocial hours?
  • Can you say no to people (friends, family, under payers, time wasters)?

Most importantly, can you answer no to this next question (and it’s crucial):

Are you a procrastinator?

If the answer to this question is yes, then you are not a writer. You’ll never make it.

As to the other 10 questions, count up how may times you answered yes:

  • 1 to 2. Forget it. You’re not a writer.
  • 3 to 5. Improve your attitude and you can make it.
  • 6 or more. You are definitely a writer. But if you’re not writing then you could be kidding yourself. Go back and answer the questions truthfully.

Now you may be wondering why some of the questions were about money and living frugally.

That’s because you can’t have it all. You can’t concentrate on your writing if you’re a big consumer. You’re thinking too much about money instead of about writing. If you want to have a lot of money, you’d be better off sticking to a job because sometimes, before you can earn enough to quit your job, you’ll have to live cheaply on what little money you make.

That’s why it’s important to love writing and not just be ‘in it’ for the money. I’ve seen far too many writers think that if they write just one book (and not even a good one at that) they’ll be rich from all the royalties. This is the wrong reason for wanting to be a writer. True writers sit and plan a whole series of books and then sit down and write them one after the other instead of sitting back and waiting for great riches to overwhelm them.

So if you’re only in it for the money, forget about it.

You also have to be good at saying no to those who want to distract you and steal your time as well as handling the pressure of deadlines and having people ridicule your work (there are internet trolls everywhere).

You also need to be self motivated because no one else can do it for you. Writers work alone. Not only that, but at the end of a busy day, your work is nothing that you can really talk about that would interest anyone else. You really are alone with your work in more ways than one.

So can you handle that?

If you can’t answer yes to 6 or (preferably) more of the questions above, you may struggle to make it with your writing because you’re not really a writer.

A bitter to pill to swallow, perhaps, but it’s better than wasting your time trying.

The only way to know if you’re really a writer or not, is to try it.


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