How to Know You’re Really a Writer

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How to Know You’re Really a WriterDo you ever wonder whether you’re really worthy to call yourself a writer?

You have a deep desire to impact people with your words.

But doubt creeps in and you ask yourself:

“What makes me a writer? I’ve never published anything, let alone a book.”

“What I have written is no good. I’m not even sure I should be doing this.”

“I can’t honestly call myself a writer. I’m nowhere near good enough!”

Sound familiar?

If you let it, that voice will keep you from ever sharing your message with the world. So let’s fight the voice of doubt with a dose of truth.

How does a person actually become a writer?

Every once in a great while you’ll hear of someone who decided to write something, or was badgered into it, and surprised everyone by becoming known as a writer.

But usually becoming a writer takes a normal course. You become a writer the way you become a bicyclist or a gymnast or a dancer, singer, cook, or plumber.

See where I’m headed with this?

You walk—and trip and tumble and plop—before you run.

Your bike tips over and you skin your knee, perhaps a dozen times, before you catch on to riding a bike.

You ruin a lot of recipes, burn cakes and pies and assorted fowl and bovine, before you become a cook.

You soak your clothes and floors and everything else in sight before you learn the ins and outs of plumbing.

Being bad at something we want to succeed at is part of the process.

It’s how we pay our dues.

If you’re not willing to fail, to stink, to be lousy, to make mistakes, to accept correction and criticism and counsel from experts, you’re not likely to progress.

So when can you call yourself a writer?

As soon as you’re willing to dive in—regardless how good or bad you are.

Just do me one favor:

Don’t call yourself a writer before you’ve mustered the courage to try.

Accept that you will be bad at first, just like we all are at everything we try for the first time. Humility is a good starting point.

But if you’re only talking about being a writer, only reading blogs about it, only going to writers conferences, hobnobbing with writers, dressing like a writer (whatever you think that means), you’re not a writer. You’re a wannabe.

Wannabes talk about writing. Writers write.

They may not write well yet, but they write.

When your seat is in the chair and your fingers are on the keyboard and the words are appearing on the screen, you’re in the game.

Otherwise, you’re talking, but no one is listening.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a writer.

But if you want to call yourself a writer, you have to write.

How I tell the difference:

I can tell within the first minute of talking to a writing student whether they have what it takes to succeed.

How?

I’m not mean, but I’m straightforward. I assume they want honest input on how to improve, and so I tell them. It can be hard to hear.

Their expression and body language tells me immediately whether they are eager to learn and grow or if they were merely hoping to be discovered.

I know it’s hard.

It can be scary to show your work to a professional, even more so to an editor or publisher who will decide whether to buy it or reject it.

But real writers want the feedback. They want to get better, to learn, to grow, to succeed.

Are you a writer?

If you’ve failed and are still writing, if you’re scared and are still writing, if you’ve stood up to a stinging critique and made your piece better by applying what you learned, if you’ve stayed at it despite that pervasive fear of failure, you are!

How do you know when you’re really a writer?

When you’re writing. Good, bad, fearfully, courageously—regardless.

If you’re in the game and plying your trade, say it loud and say it proud:

I am a writer!

Are you a writer? Tell me below and tell me why.

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  • Zachary Klimczak

    Jerry, let me answer your questions in the simplest way. Am I a writer? Yes. Why? I write. I keep pushing words to paper. Good, bad, beautiful, or dismal, I push through the fears, the voices, the “you can’t”s and “you won’t”s and I write – butt in chair, words to paper. Have I ever published anything? Not one sentence. Will I ever publish anything? Yes I will. I love your articles, unique voice, and advice. Thanks for being a great inspiration. After reading, I immediately thought of this quote from Martha Graham, which I think complements your article. Take care!

    “There is a vitality,
    a life force,
    a quickening
    that is translated through you into action,
    and because there is only one of you in all time,
    this expression is unique.

    And If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
    The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine
    how good it is
    nor how valuable it is
    nor how it compares with other expressions.

    It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly
    to keep the channel open.
    You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
    You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

    Keep the channel open…
    No artist is pleased…

    There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
    There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
    a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
    and makes “us” MORE alive than the others.”

    • That’s great, Zachary, and the very fact that you spelled “complements” correctly tells me you’re on your way. :)

      • You had to expect your signed copy of “Writing For the Soul” would be beneficial, right? ;)

  • will schmit

    Because after my father read my first book of poems he said, “You ought to write.” Of course I thought I just had…

  • Laura Bennet

    Yes, according to your list above, I am. That’s a relief. Just earlier as I was writing, I was hearing those voices you speak of here. I paced. Prayed. And started putting more words down…Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Henry Neff

    Yes I am a writer. Self-published one book. Have one active blog. Write and publish multiple newsletters. Not sure how good I am but I will keep it up until I am very good at writing.

  • Connie Schisler Vellekoop

    I have felt from the Lord that I’m supposed to write but am always overwhelmed, not so much with the writing, but the whole arena of getting published. I love beautifully crafted descriptions that make the reader feel they’re THERE. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m always amazed that you, a busy author, find time to do that individually for those of us who reply to your excellent blogs. Thank you. And I do keep on writing…

  • Shelly Denison

    I have always enjoyed writing for myself but never imagined I would have the discipline to write to be published until recently. Now that I have this hunger to share the story I am writing, I am finding myself going to bed by 9:00 or 10:00 so I can get up at 4:30 and spend a few hours writing before I have to go to work. I have always been a night owl but this has turned me into a morning person because it is the quietest time in my house and allows me the best time to think creatively.

    I have been in a career transition (aka laid off) and have been asked by acquaintances recently, “What do you do?”. I haven’t said it out loud yet but internally I am answering, “I’m a writer.”

    Speaking of falling down and getting back up again, this is one of my favorite quotes:

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

  • Karen Crider

    I can’t remember when I wasn’t a writer. I was published at 14,and even though I was an artist, I knew writing was where the joy was. Writing is a high.I am the happiest when I write, no matter the subject.

  • Carl Miller

    Yes, I am. What’s interesting is I just completed my prayer journal and discussed this very issue. I journal 3-4 times or more a week. It helps me clear my head and I can put my prayer on paper. Your e-mail hit home to me because I share many of those fears and doubts. Recently, I entered a story to a writing contest. I didn’t win but at least I completed the work and I am working on another story for another contest this month. I am less concerned about winning and more focused on having someone in the field read my work.

  • Beth Rayann Corder

    You tell me…(arms folded, cocked head with one eyebrow up)
    Am I a writer?

    I take 26 letters, form words, make sentences into paragraphs and put them on anything that will accept ink.

    I read, research and take writing courses and webinars.
    I write when I’m suppose to be doing other things.
    I write when I have nothing to say.
    I write in my sleep.
    I have a plan to get those 26 letters in order and published.
    I am building my platform.
    And, I have my rear in chair a lot.

    So, what do you think? Am I a writer?

    Beth Rayann Corder
    Former CWG Student

  • Yes, I am, but it’s still strange for me to say it. I’ve been published a few times, but I don’t know that all of those closest to me take me seriously yet (that’s okay) since my primary interest and education has always been in music. I still love music (improvisational piano mainly), but I love writing too. Most of the encouragement I received growing up was in music, but in college I started receiving a lot of encouragement in writing as well. I later took the Apprentice program and my mentor continued to encourage and sharpen me. There’s a unique satisfaction in creating organized thought, and seeing it published. I just can’t walk away from it . . .

  • Debbie Burgett

    Yes, I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be packing, but I want to be writing. I’m supposed to be choosing my outfits, but I want to be choosing my words. I don’t want to focus on this sea of blouses and skirts! I’ll physically be at a wedding this weekend, but I know my heart will keep sneaking back to the waiting words. It will be a long four days, but then Monday will be even sweeter.

  • Marian Rizzo

    How do I know I’m a writer? Because I can’t not write. I know. I’ve tried not to write. It doesn’t work for me. I know I’m a writer because writing is food to me. It’s nourishment, therapy, an emotional release. My writing may never go beyond my personal computer, and that’s okay. I still have to write.

  • I am a writer. (Hey, that was not so hard.) I just made new business cards. I have the courage to introduce myself as a writer, speaker and teacher. This has all happened in the last year.

    • Susie Swasso

      Amazing! Good for you!

  • Susie Swasso

    I’m a writer! With a failure to launch. I submitted my book to your critiques before. I didn’t fare to well. But I am DRIVEN (often crazy) to keep improving it. Now I’m experiencing the exhausting “eternally editing symdrome”!

  • Susie Swasso

    You know you must be a writer when you constantly think of something to write down! Unfortunately…I can’t write well.

    • Keep practicing. I am awful. I try to learn something new everyday. You can do it.

  • Charlene

    I know I’m a writer because there are words in my head that form into prose when I am in the shower or driving my car or watching the rain.

    I know I’m a writer because everything that God shows me reforms itself into a story for an eager listener and I feel useful.

    I know I am a writer because the first draft can be like pulling out my fingernails but the rewrites are heaven and numerous.

    I know I’m a writer because I wake up with thoughts working their way into essays and fall asleep asking God to use me in this desire that I’m sure is from Him.

    I know I am a writer because I am writing this in my Memo app to enable rewrites before I cut and paste it into the comment section of your blog.

    I know I’m a writer because when too much time has gone by without pen and paper my mind feels crowded and thinking becomes a challenge.

    I know I am a writer because I see words form into pictures and that really lights me up.

    I know I’m a writer because the rawness of my heart needs to be noticed by the gentle reality of solitude.

    I know I am a writer because I can see the dance in a song and want to put words to what I feel.

    I know I am a writer because even the idea of publishing this on your blog makes me feel nervous and insecure and daring like a free-fall.

    I know I am a writer because I have to write. There is no choice really.

    • Debra Timmons

      Thank you, Charlene. This was beautiful, and I felt what you wrote.

    • Teresa Tackett Hardymon

      You said this so well. Beautiful thoughts.

  • Sandra Stiles

    I know I am a writer. I carry paper and writing utensils with me everywhere. I knew I was a writer when asked on our first day back to explain what we had done over the summer and why we thought we were successful. I said I had spent the summer writing and knew I was successful at it because I was getting back rejection letters. Obviously from the looks on the other teacher’s faces they didn’t understand what a writer was. I also know I am a writer because I don’t just passionately write, but I try to involve others, students, teachers, anyone I can get to stop long enough to sit and write with me.

  • mari

    I have written and not published since I was first able to do so. I just published my first book last year. I love to write and always have ideas and am working on my second book. Right now what I write is papers for college. It takes up most of my writing time as in my book writing and research. I am always researching and writing.

  • Carolyn McBreen Gibbs

    After I completed your course under Norman, I began writing as a freelance journalist for a daily newspaper. My first assignment was an interesting story, but when my editor was done, it was more red marks than black print. I learned. I am still learning after being published many, many times, and publishing my first book. I still proudly hang on to that first piece with all the red. I still learn new things, and yes, I am a writer!

  • nancyb711

    I’ve always been drawn to English/reading/vocabulary-building, grammar/spelling/writing from early on in my childhood. I’m naturally good at these things. I almost participated in a spelling bee once, but I think I got cold feet. I am extremely detail-oriented 2 where a lot of people who don’t particularly care for short stories might say (& have, lol), “Stop, enough!!”

    Here’s an excerpt from a casual, yet very personal email I recently wrote:

    My ex husband’s parents wanted 2 move here because his mom’s parents had just moved here 4 some reason. They both had a lot of health issues & they wanted/needed their daughter 2 come take care of them. They soon after both ended up dying, then my ex’s mom died herself from breast cancer. We watched her die & we took a pic as she breathed her last breath, & u can see a little light on 2-3 different pics. I believe that was the Holy Spirit in her moving out of her flesh body, into her glorified body, which is what the Bible says.

    I had to sacrifice/quit a very good job that i really enjoyed & that paid well, the best I’ve had.

    My ex’s dad was being paid 2 be his mom’s caregiver when she started getting very Ill/immobile. She often moaned loudly from pain as death was drawing closer. She couldn’t walk to the bathroom or take care of herself anymore. It was horrible watching her suffer in agony. We were sad, but peaceful when she passed because we knew she would no longer feel pain or sadness. She finally got 2 go to the place she longed to go to throughout most of her life. She loved Jesus very much & taught many others 2 do the same. She was the perfect example of how a true servant of God should live, teaching everyone she met about His love/salvation that was freely available 2 them if they would just simply believe. Anyway, since she died, all my ex’s dad gets is Social Security for retirement. He gets very little, not enough 2 live on his own. My ex has been spoiled/taken care of most of his life by both his mom & myself when we were married. He was never willing 2 get a job. It was easier & made more money being a pot dealer when we lived in the San Fernando Valley. He would always use the excuse that no one would hire him because he has no experience or job skills. But that’s how I got all my skills, from taking whatever job sounded interesting, & working. I was the only one working throughout our 15 year marriage. He offered very little to no help. I’ve been working & taking care of myself since I was 16 & would rent rooms in people’s homes 2 live. I was very responsible & knew I really had no other choice in order to get a car, pay bills/rent/food, etc. I had no one else 2 support me. [END]

    Please evaluate & reply if possible/time allows.

    Thank you,
    Nancy Starcher-Berardinelli

  • ragtack

    Don’t know if I can write, always scribbling ink to make a line

    Nothing to say, just felling to hide

    Want to be loved, but no one speaks my name

    In the emptiness, the water flows

    Hoping for the touch, maybe in eternity…

    [ my best all here ]

  • D. L. Weber

    Writing is like breathing; I can’t imagine not doing it every day. At work I volunteer to document issues or procedures, volunteer to be the recorder of meetings, and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard at every opportunity.
    Attending a writers’ group is my way of walking out of the surf, onto the beach of an island of sanity in this crazy sea.

  • I am a writer. I’ve had a lot of rejections and some stinging critiques but I am a writher. I am now getting a few successes. I am a writer! Thank you :)

  • I am a writer! I’ve got the rejection slips, and the acceptance email, to prove it. Excellent, inspirational post, Jerry. You made me want to scream “I’m a writer” out my window. Now that’s great writing.

  • Elaine Doll

    I am a writer. After overcoming doubt and fear of failure, and many writing courses, rejection slips, published magazine articles, devotions, and poems, conference workshops, and writing, writing, writing, I published my first novel, “Whispers from the Soul” with Abbott Press. Following that and four major, life-threatening surgeries, I rose up from the hospital bed determined to complete and publish the sequel, “Measures of Passion.” I’m working on book three, another Christian historical romance, and I’m excited about it. Yes, I am a writer. Your writing tips, Jerry, help keep me motivated. Thanks.

  • I’m a writer because:

    · I’ve written and published one book a year the
    last three years

    · I’ve written for dozens of sports and business
    publications

    · I have current deadlines “looming” for articles in
    Olympic Coach magazine and Coach and Athletic Director Magazine

    The challenge (for me) is not the writing, but getting the
    writing in front of the best audience and building long-term business
    relationships.

    Thank you Mr. Jenkins for the blog post.

  • Cathy Gross

    Am I a writer? You bet I am! Why is it so? I do not know how to hold it in. The words find a venue and move people. Sometimes they laugh, often they cry and once in a while they are just plain ticked off. Even responding to your question becomes a challenge to find the choice words and string them together effectively. Responding to an e-mail, writing an encouraging note or a chapter in a novel all present a new chance to try to get it just right. It has become a passion. My goal is a lucrative, successful career, touching and influencing readers. Nothing unusual there. Yet whatever the level of success, published or unpublished, I will still wear the title, writer. Thank you for the challenge to look at myself and decide. Am I a writer or a wanna be?
    Ain’t no wanna be here!

  • Michele Archer

    I’m a writer because I’m here to tell stories, while recognizing that all of them, good, bad, scary, shocking, offensive…all have as their home the one Great Story, The tale of the Man sent to earth to save the world. No tale of battle has been greater, no tale of romance sweeter. I press towards writing with a diamonds edge view of bringing His story to shimmering life.

  • Andrea Rose-Butler

    I write all the time. Ideas come to me even in my sleep, I keep a notebook by my bed for that very reason. I have completed two books, and have about three more in various stages of completion. I also write lyrics, plays and poetry. I AM A WRITER!!!!

    • amen, Andrea! Ideas usually come at the most inconvenient times, but you must surrender to them! From what I have experienced, the most amazing writing types are poetry and song lyrics. I also write both, and I know how awesome it is. Keep at it!

      • Andrea Rose-Butler

        Thank you for your comments, you too because we are writers

  • Juli Ocean

    Definitely a writer. The more brutal the critique, the better I’m going to become. Three books down, two more nearly finished and a slew of short stories finished and in the works. I want to share everything I learn with anyone brave enough to call themselves a writer. Yes, Andrea Rose-Butler, paper by the bed. In the car. in my pocket or purse…

  • Renee Peebles

    Yes, I am a writer (although not “officially”) but love to write it is my favorite way to express my feelings, my joys, dreams, disappointments, etc. I have a story and something to say. My enjoyment of writing began when I was a kid. I was the shy, quiet, unseen kid who felt invisible. Reading and writing was my happy place! When I was adopted into God’s family my desire to write increased. If I couldn’t write I would have no voice! Writing even if just for myself is like breathing. It is a place of healing for me. I write now because I heard God’s call on my life to write, “David had a sling you have a pen”. So I write mostly now for myself but am excited about this journey. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and expertise with us.

  • Robert Murphy

    I may go long stretches without writing, but I always come back to it, and the experiences and people I meet when I’m not actively writing, generally find their way into some future story. My mind is always going even when the pen isn’t, so to speak. Most of my recent writing has been blogging, which allows me to experiment on various techniques and methods of writing; I have also been experimenting with traditional haiku. The novel I’m currently working on is based on two characters that I created about 30 years ago, so overall, yeah, I am a writer.

  • Joyce E. Johnson

    I write because there isn’t anything else I’d rather do. It has always been my passion to create with words and say something worth saying to be read, as if I am speaking it verbally. When I write it flows forth, good or bad, published or not. I won’t accept failure because I won’t claim what is not a part of me, of my soul, my DNA. And I know without a doubt it is the gift God has given me, and what I write I want to get better at, so I have developed a ‘thick skin’ in the process in order to improve my skills. So, yes, I am a writer.

  • Janice G

    “He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, ‘His name is John.'” (Luke 2:63) Like Zechariah had problems with spoken words for a time and wrote to communicate, so I have done in my life. The wiring in my brain made words rush into my fingers instead of to my tongue. So writing has forever been my preferred way of communication. And like Zechariah, my writing tends to be shorter pieces rather than longer. Perhaps if I had been a better speaker I would not be a writer. I want to become a better writer and publish to glorify God and help people. I am still trying to fully understand my calling and be led into the best way to do that.

  • Carol Van

    Confession: I’m a writer.

    It takes SO much courage to keep doing this. Your article brought encouraging tears… a tough journey which sometimes makes me go ‘Ok enough’ then I pick up my pen again…I’m a writer

    Thank you for your encouragement

  • DarleofGod

    Jerry, yes I am a writer.

    I have on file 3 unfinished manuscripts; fiction and nonfiction, over 80 poems, 1 developing Blog website, and 2 developing ministerial sites, 2 children’s stories and 3 series greeting cards. Friends and family contact me to write for them. I have contracted with 2 professional musicians to do their websites, and artist’s portfolios. And I still am not published nor have finished my writing assignments. Writing for me is an assignment of which assignments are given by The Giver of all things, our LORD. Your blog article truly “hit the spot,” that is, that “urging and propelling” writer’s spot within. My interest in writing is motivated by The Gospel of Jesus Christ. I actually just want to tell His Story through the stories of the lives of people I know or know about (including my own) and through thoughtful discourse of life “things.” God has given us a world full of human experience, natural and spiritual phenomena and practical everyday circumstances and situations that just beg to be “penned” to paper. To be in any way conscious makes one cognizant that there is much to consider and to tell to one another. I firmly believe that a Believer and Follower of Christ is assigned to “Tell it.” It is to open our mouths and printers to tell His Story again and again and again; writing it on the fleshy tablets of human hearts. Since I have pen in hand, a keyboard with a printer full of ink, I write.

    Psalms 45:1 – My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

  • Ed Murrell

    I am a writer, because, though “success” seems beyond reach, I write. I am getting better at it day by day. I have credits, but that does not make me a writer. I am a writer because I write.

  • Lisa

    I am a writer because I write. Yes, I have had my work rejected, and also accepted. So, hurrah! I have had crticism and I have had praise, both from people foreign and familiar to me. I am ready to accept the challenges the Lord places before me as He leads me in this career, all for His glory.

  • Michelle Connell

    I am definitely a writer…born to write. I am blogging an inspirational romance at http://heirforcenovel.wordpress.com and EVERY time I hit the publish button it makes me nervous. But I’ve been posting the story over a year and yes, I am a writer. I am working on other novels and my first one will come out in Sep. on Kindle, paperback. I am excited, and still scared to death.

    I have reviewed hundreds of books for CBA, Christian Communicator, Christian Home & School, and other markets, but this is the first time I’ve worked on my own books. Have my writer’s group to thank and NaNoWriMo.

  • Jerry Haas

    I am a writer that brings a biblical worldview to cultural issues of the day. I am a writer who is humbled by the platform God has given me to reach people with the truth of scripture. I am a writer that hones his craft by reading, writing, and challenging myself to improve. I am a writer because I marvel at the way the Spirit gives me the ability to express myself in writing. To God be the glory as I obey Him in completing the task to which I have been called as a writer.

  • Carla Anderson

    God has given me a story to share. A story that seems, at times, to be boiling over to be shared. I would rather share it through the spoken word, but the written word seems to be the way it is for now. So, I write fearfully, but I write.

  • Susan McCrea

    Yes, I am a writer. Why? Because I write all the time. I journal thoughts and prayers. I take notes at every lecture. I also return to my basic project, writing my adoption/reunion story, in spite of discouragement and the trials of life. I have been working on it for years. I feel like a boomerang. I always come back to writing, no matter what happens, even when I take a break.

  • Jim Boyd

    It took me 8 years to see write A BULLET FOR JESUS, but friends and the Holy Spirit kept pushing me. Finally I sat down and finished it.
    A Christian Publisher, Morgan James has published it and now lives are being changed.
    Hang in there and follow God’s leading.

  • Susan Sorian

    I am a writer. I identify myself as such, because I write. I write compulsively at times, sporadically at times, and passionate at all times. People read what I write, and always ask for more. When I write, I am encouraged, inspired, rejuvenated and fulfilled just in the very act of writing. When a work is completed – published or not – there is a great sense of accomplishment. I believe it is a gift that God has given me as a medium to reach into people’s hearts, encouraging them, comforting them and even inspiring them with a new sense of purpose. Poems come easily, blogs come from the heart, and devotions or Bible Studies take more work and meditation. What amazes me, is that I can read something that I have written, and be inspired by it myself – which tells me it is not all me, but a gift from the Lord. There have been times I have been able to go back and read something from the past that applies to my present state of circumstances or heart, and it brings me hope. My purpose in writing is simply to bring joy or inspiration to others.

  • Kristin Funderburk Curtis

    From an early age I knew God had given me the gift of music–singing, playing instruments, songwriting, etc. I also enjoyed writing, but only for myself and my family. I always thought God was going to lead me into a music career. I sang in church, I was requested at weddings and funerals, and everyone always told me to try out for American Idol or The Voice. Well, life is funny…and God always has different plans. Life got in the way of me being able to seriously pursue a music career, and the only outlet I had for creative expression was writing. I dove in. For years I wrote poetry, short stories, children’s stories, and three novels.

    When I was 28 God opened the door for me to go back to school. Naturally, I became an English major. I remember where I was the day I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put my literary voice out there for the first time. I was eating lunch in the campus cafeteria, and this young Asian guy was passing out fliers about submitting poems and short stories for the yearly college journal. I thought, “Why not?” Even if I received no feedback, or negative feedback, at least I’d finally be able to call myself a writer. I submitted three poems and they were published in April of that year. What I wasn’t counting on, what I wasn’t expecting, was the positive feedback. I received over thirty emails from students who had read my poems and wanted to discuss them. I felt encouraged, so the next school year I submitted more poems. Those had a great reception as well. I became bold enough to show some short stories to my English professors, and they gave me sound constructive criticism. I listened and learned and plugged away some more.

    But, it wasn’t until this year that I became serious about pursuing a writing career. For the last two years I’d been chewing on this idea for a fourth novel, but didn’t have the time to sit down and write because of school, kids, and a chronically ill hubby. I was supposed to go to school this summer semester but things didn’t work out. My parents took my kids for an entire month to give me a break, a chance to rest and recharge my batteries. On day three of my mom-cation I woke up feeling antsy. I just couldn’t find anything to do, everything bored me, I was coming out of my skin. It was like I had a fire raging inside and didn’t know how to quench it. My hubby causally made the comment, “Why don’t you write?” Then it hit me. I finally had the chance to bang out my fourth novel, and I had an entire month to do it.
    I was hoping I could get at least halfway done before my time was up. God had other plans.

    As soon as I sat down on my bed to write, He took over. 16-18 hours a day I worked at a feverish pace, only breaking for basic needs or to help my hubby. My fingers were flying so fast there were times I didn’t even realize what I had written until I looked back. There were also moments where I felt the Holy Spirit come over me, and as I was writing certain scenes tears were streaming down my face. God also tweaked my story here and there, taking me in different directions than I had originally intended. And His ideas were always better. I believe that this summer semester didn’t work out for a reason. God wanted me to write this story. I wrote the entire novel in twenty-six days. I remember sitting on my bed staring at my screen at the last line of my epilogue and thinking, “Wow, this is what God wants me to do with my life. God wants to use my voice…just in a different way.” Right now I am wrapping up editing/ fact-checking and am preparing to send out query letters. Like the scripture says–if God started this, He will be faithful to complete it. I am trusting Him to bring everything to fruition.

  • I am a writer. All I do is write. When I’m not writing, I’m not complete. I’ve had my share of criticism. And I’ve had my share of doubt. But what I know for sure is that God called me to be a writer. So I’m in this for good.
    Love your articles, Jerry! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Sterling Dimmick

    I have written poetry, for newspapers(weekly & daily), devotionals for publication, I am a photographer as well. I have a novel in mind. I am a writer

  • I am a writer!

    (I know the power of saying this. Each year I teach a class to beginning writers at a writing conference, and I have them say this out loud – three times. The first time their words are quiet and timid, but by the third time, they’re grinning and more confident. Words are a powerful thing.)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Amen, Peter!

  • Linda

    I think I’m a writer. I write. I enjoy writing. When I go too long without writing, I begin to feel out-of-sorts. Currently, I am writing a first novel, which feels both daunting and exciting; however, even if I return to the story after several days, I find myself still in the flow of the story. So, wherever I am, I grab a piece of scrap paper and write.

  • Jan Parys

    I fell in love with our town and its 300 years of history. I am still fascinated with research and the Stanly family. I think my story, “From Slave to Slave Master” is not politically correct and never learned about the freed slave before coming here. My story is encouraging showing how high one can rise. J. C. Stanly was a true Christian and helped his half brother and many slaves.
    BTW I can’t download the online resources. Jan Parys (New Bern, NC)

  • T-S-7

    I am a writer! I’ve written 95% of a book about what the Bible says a Christian is (140k+ words so far, with about 20% being devoted to eternal security); 100% (115k+ words) devoted to disputing Rome Sweet Home (which I call “Rome Sweet Home? Hmm…); another 67k+ disputing A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (and I’ve only commented on 4 chapters so far…); and one Christian novel that I finished (first book of a two-book series). And now my wife has me revamping the novel and making it more for all readers.

    Of course, nothing has been published…. :-)

    Dave

  • Donna Braymer

    Thank you Mr. Jenkins for the encouragement you give so generously to writers without your experience and success … yet! Yes, I am a writer, or the newspaper would have not kept me on staff for 16 years! My young children’s books have been a regional success, but not national as I had hoped. I almost gave up on the dream, until I read your blog and realized, I really am a writer! God is not finished with me yet, or I would not be typing and breathing! So, I will continue my fiction efforts thanks to your encouragement.

  • Jan Kaufman Lockhart

    I’ve written words for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until recently that I considered myself a writer. I haven’t published anything. I haven’t even submitted anything. But I am a writer. I write because the words are there and because without me, they would never make it on to paper. I have stories to tell that only I can tell. That’s what makes me a writer.

  • Linda

    The coolest part of writing is noticing that many writers have doubts and fears, yet, find courage to write anyway…that is a writer!! :)

  • Today, I deleted every sentence of a short story re-write. “It’s not good enough. It stinks, I said out loud and left the room. It is hours later and I just finished reading your article, “How Do You Know You’re Really A Writer?” I am a writer because I am stubborn. The word, quit I must admit, is a heel nipper. Thankful I had time to open your email. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you, God, for your perfect timing.

  • Ora Dove

    Anyone need a vintage wannabe writer badge? Mine is up for grabs. I am a writer because I am no longer afraid to be one.

  • Kelly

    I am about to submit my first article for consideration. I have had fellow writer friends critique my work but this is the first time a real editor will read it. Honestly I am expecting a rejection, not because I think its bad, but because this is the first one. I hope there will be some good feedback along with it.

  • Luella Fern Jones

    I am a writer because I have to! I have to share whatever God gives me to say within a family situation we have lived or heard about… First the Great Depression…now the 2nd world war…I need prayer to get it right!

  • KrisLAllen63

    If you journal you’re a writer, if you’ve journaled for 35 years, you’re a writer.

  • I am a writer. There was no greater feeling than accepting my purpose and realizing all that is within me that needs to be shared with the world! #IAMAWRITER

  • Mary

    I am a writer! Just listened to your webinar and it was great information. I started out a little like you did. I wrote for the school yearbook. I even wrote letters to the editor in newspapers when I was passionate about something. At one time I worked as and administrative assistant for a company who allowed me to write for their monthly client magazine called Financial Digest and actually got paid to write the articles. They were articles like Creditcarditis (the disease of credit card addiction) and the Art of Communication which was about the importance of communication inside a corporation. In another job for a hotel I was the office manager for Sales and Marketing but I wrote a training manual on customer service and became an instructor as well as speaking before all department heads about my manual. Still through all this I didn’t realize writing was what I really wanted to do. Now I’m much older and don’t have to work but I felt a calling to write about my son who started using drugs at the age of 11. I wanted to write a book about a mother’s perspective. It seemed so daunting but God would not let this drop. He keeps putting people in my path that are parents of addicts who just want someone who understands. I just keep talking about it though so you have inspired me to sit down and do it. I have attended writers groups and I do currently go to school obtaining a degree in Creative Writing. Thanks for all the wonderful advice on your site. As you can see I need to learn how to say things in less words lol.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Fewer words. Less writing. :)

      But I hear you, Mary. You’re on your way and thanks for your kind comments.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    I am a writer :D YAYY

  • Renette Steele

    i am a writer! I have often tried to go without writing for long periods, but i find myself with pen and paper and words or pictures flowing with out my even realizing it, i am a writer even if GOD and i are the only ones to ever read it. I write for Him. Writing out my prayers keeps me focused and helps them make sense. I am a writer because GOD gives me the desire to communicate through words on paper. I am a writer because i am taking steps to learn how to travel the path. i am a writer for Him!

  • Steph K

    I am late to the discussion because I just learned of your website. I am a writer because I blog, and friends tell me they like what they’ve read. Occasionally I get asked to write short articles, and my dream is to be the female Dave Barry. Most of all I am a writer because I have stories swimming in my head that I fully believe God placed there for the telling and entertaining, and I am learning how to move them from my brain to paper/screen.

  • J Eliot Mason

    I’m so glad you said it, “you’re a wanna be”. These days it seems like so many people love talking about writing but never do it. This is my new favorite site for writing because of two words, work ethic! It seems to be your mantra and I super respect that.

  • Barbara Tooley

    I am a writer because I will write even if no one reads. I am wanting to plant the mustard seed!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Keep it up and someone will start reading, Barbara.

  • D. Palmer

    I am a writer and to be honest, it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Almost done with a novel that I started a year and half ago and my days consist of writing and editing, and thinking about writing and editing when I’m not actively doing it.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      If it was easy, anybody could do it, right, D.? :)

  • Laine Kammeraad

    I am a writer! I would write more but have a post I need to finish. BIG SMILES

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Go, Laine!

  • Ashanda N. McCants

    Crazy! I just asked you a question about receiving knowledge from more experienced writers, and getting over yourself when I came across this article. I have felt two different ways by the critique I received today about my first book: One, disappointment. I thought she would say, this is AMAZING! I smell New York Times Best Seller. Of course, we will accept your manuscript. But she said, it was good but you need help to make it stronger. Second, appreciative. She wasn’t afraid to hurt my feelings and she knew what she was talking about.I felt like I was on a new level. So I researched what her concern was and am applying it to my second manuscript. I also reached out to her recommended editor. So….I GUESS I’M A WRITER!!! Thanks, Jerry.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I guess you are too. That’s a great attitude, Ashanda.

  • Kathleen Thackham

    I write, not daily but I write, I have a blog I’ve had for years with maybe 4 followers, I have a facebook writers page, I have a writers dream book of all my ideas, some I have written about, others I’m too afraid to. I’ve been to writers conferences but I still don’t think I am a writer. This post made me see maybe I am an actual writer just still in my closet in some ways. A professor once told me the only difference between someone who is published and me, is that they are sending things out and I am hiding my voice from the world. I honestly believe once I overcome my fear It would bring me peace because I finally achieved my dream. It doesn’t have to be a book deal, I just want to be a light in someones life. Words heal and i want heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Thank you Jerry, you seem like a very compassionate man who cares about others. I hope people can say that about me too one day.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      If you can be a light in one life, why not more? Let the market decide if your writing is worthy of wider dissemination. If you decide, your humility may rob someone of your ministry. :)

      • Kathleen Thackham

        Wow, I never thought about it like that before. But I don’t have a degree, I didn’t go to college, I went to clown school and stayed home raising kids.
        Do you really think your courses could help someone like me?

        • Jerry B Jenkins

          Kathleen, go to this page (http://www.jerryjenkins.com/about/) and click on Biography, which includes my having served as vice president for publishing, chairman of the board of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, and five HONORARY doctorate degrees, and see if there is mention of ANY education beyond high school.

          • Kathleen Thackham

            Wow, no offense but I had no idea you were so accomplished. What a wonderful life you have lived helping others and what an inspiration for not getting past high school. Thank you.

          • Jerry B Jenkins

            No offense taken, and of course my point wasn’t to impress you with my accomplishments but that your lack of college need not be relevant.

          • Kathleen Thackham

            I understood completely. Although I am a bit impressed but happy for you and your accomplishments. I think its wonderful the life you have carved out for yourself. You’ve got me dreaming again. I think I lost that for a long while, thank you.

  • I have a passion for communicating to others what God has put on my heart.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      That’s great, Jarmila.

  • Monua Cary

    I am a writer! I have FINALLY put pen to paper! One finished work, self-published and co-authored, five years ago does not a writer make ;). Back in the game and a big thanks to you! Ninja Hugs! ~M

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Great, Monua! Stay tuned. Exciting stuff coming very soon.

    • Carol

      Ninja Hugs – Awesome!!

  • Lotus Williams

    Am I a writer? The flow of words brings a sense of peace to my heart, mind and spirit. I love to express my feelings and emotions from pen to paper. Yes, utilizing the old fashion stick pen, medium point in a variety of colors, and lined paper with the smell and feel that only paper can behold. I make shitty first drafts, where nothing is withheld from the raw emotions that I am experiencing. Then and only then, do I attempt to refine and define with a thousand electronic keystrokes. Does that make me a writer? Yes, I am a writer! Why? Because I have the passion and if I believe it is true, it is true indeed.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Great, Lotus, and stay tuned. I’m announcing some exciting stuff right here this month.

  • Linda Rowland Kruschke

    Great article! I love the part about writers wanting feedback to improve. In the past two years I’ve sought feedback for my writing more than ever before, prayed for God’s wisdom to use the feedback wisely and with humility, and have improved my writing. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve self-published two poetry books, one in 2014 and one in 2015. And I have written and re-written the first three chapters of a book on living fearlessly. I’m looking forward to your class to get that book finished this year.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Great to have you, Linda.

  • Michelle Swenson

    Jerry, thank you! I admit, I am a Wannabe writer! Although I have written a couple of chapters and have done tons of writing in my marketing business. I have had a deep down call to write a book for the past 30+ yrs. I am not proud to say that I have procrastinated this long. Just about everyone who knows me has said, you must write. Yet I don’t do it. Why? I am afraid I will never do it. I’ve written a couple of chapters and people LOVE them. My marketing business, family, etc. has been the main consumer of my time. Now, a new season is upon me to step up and be the CEO of my company which will free up some time by not taking on clients personally. I am excited. I want to do many things I’ve had on the back burner; create art, publish a blog, and write that long awaited BOOK! It is exciting to think about the finished product and the impact it will have on lives. I seriously feel like I have been disobedient for not writing the book and must do it before I forget everything. I know it will require purposely carving out the time, committing to the process, and approach it with hard work, like my business. I will start it via a Blog. Is this a good place to start? Shall I write the Blog chapter-by-chapter of the actual book? Any advise would be much appreciated. I joined a writers community for more inspiration and will keep up with you Jerry, to soak up your seasoned advise. Just wanted to share my heart and struggle here. Getting it out there may help fuel my deep call to get me writing. The time is now! Thanks for reading my post :-)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      It’s never too late, Michelle. I agree. The time is now.

  • Evangeline Inman

    I am a writer!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good, Evangeline! Hope you can join us for the free webinar Thursday.

  • Kate Hitt-Kaplan

    Well now I know for certain I am a writer! I have been (am) inflicted with all of the above.

    A lifetime in the customer care industry is perfect for a people-pleaser. I have written thousands of letters for corporate resolving issues and making people happy. Speeches, technique and attitude classes all toward the same goal, customer care. I want
    to share with the world how to get and give excellent customer care (I use the
    term care vs. service, as I serve only One, I care for many).

    • Great, Kate! Welcome. Join us for the free webinar Thursday.

  • Michelle Gonthier

    When i was a child I started writing stories when I could barely right and still need spelling lessons. However the love grew into journalling then into journalism when I was in highschool writing articles for the school paper that was showcased in our loccal town newspaper as well as putting in a comic that I rote and illustrated. My drawings, poetry and stories got fetured in publications that were of loccal content from the time I was 12 till I was 18. I’m also a singer so being an artist in the performing and creative arts can garner lots of story ideas. I can’t go a day with out writing some thing and I can’t go for long periods of time with out adding to my educational endeavors. Singing, Writing, Drawing and painting are all things I just have to do. Writing using a computer and writing in books that I purchase as the office supply stores (that i enjoy much more than clothing shopping). It brings me joy to fill a little book with what I affectionately call my scribbles. In college a teacher incouraged me to write more when I wrote a story of when I had an almost severed leg from my disobediance after the feelings of invincibility that I had felt after comming home from a christian concert. She gave me some pointers on how to re-write and I did that and know it still needs more work. I’ve written other stories that I’ve never had published. From poetry to articles for a newpaper then to writing stories in college and now wanting to write novels and short novels for young and older readers. I enjoy learning how I can improve.. And finding this blog and such is sure to help.

  • mari

    I am a writer….writers unite…!

  • Erin M. Schaffer

    This is encouraging — though I wish I could push myself more. What I do write is good, and I’ve had positive comments, but it’s like pulling teeth. The story is there in my head, but it’s more like a movie than a story, and getting it onto the page is so terribly difficult….

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Like I always say, Erin, if it were easy, anyone could do it. And we WANT the story to look like a movie. We’re all visual thinkers, especially us storytellers. I know the process is working when I am at the keyboard and the story is playing out that way in my head and I’m frantically trying to keep up with it. You can do this! :)

    • Stormi Miller

      I’ve written 8 novels countless poems and short stories. I always see what I write like a movie. I learned to type faster because it was the only way to keep up with the movie in my head! I find it helpful to just put EVERYTHING in, even if the way it’s worded doesn’t make much sense. I call it my “broad painstroke” attack! Then I go back to refine and cut out to clarify. At least everything is on paper then.

      • Jerry B Jenkins

        That’s the way I do it too, Stormi. Write today, edit tomorrow. All real writing is rewriting.

  • treebird

    I can now say I am a writer. However, not yet a great one. I blog and have written several articles that have been published in the paper as me listed as a guest columnist. I have a collection of my father’s writings I wish to one day publish as well as my own memoirs.

  • Sharon Butler

    I am a writer. Wow! “I” am a Writer with a capital W. I really am. (Thank you, Jesus.)

  • Elle B

    I am a writer, but I’m looking for avenues to actually get feedback. Right now it’s just friends who say “hey, I like that”. I’d love feedback, but it also scares me! Nothing good comes from playing it safe. It’s hard to put yourself out there, all the pain and trials and suffering especially when those things have been used by people you know against you. My goal is to write it out all out, but right now I’m blogging mostly and just practicing daily to write.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Yes, you have to tell yourself that in this case, the criticism is constructive, and you’re right, nothing good comes from playing it safe.

  • teriG

    I am a writer, coming out of the closet! I love to write, whether for work or pleasure. My words are well-taken at work, they are hidden for pleasure. I am working on opening that closet door and sharing my words!

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      You go, girl!

  • Stormi Miller

    I’m a writer because I have to be. If I don’t write the stories in my head they play overand over preventing sleep and concentration until I write them down.

    My daughter loves to read what I write and anyone I’ve allowed to read my books has asked when I’m going to send them to someone. My daughter told me this year for her birthday she wants to go with me to the post office to mail my first attempt at publishing one of my books. Hopefully my fears won’t keep her from getting her birthday wish.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I sure hope you don’t do it through the post office. Most publishers prefer electronic submissions. http://www.JerrysGuild.com

      • Stormi Miller

        Then I guess her birthday present will be hitting “send”!

  • DeAnn Juliano

    I am a writer… It took awhile for me to come to this. It started on Facebook and with my cancer journey. A friend said, why don’t you write a book? I told him, a book? I am a nobody. I am not some celerity or someone that I feel people may want to read my book. He then tells me, what you are is posative, informative, and you tell it like it is. You have taught me more than I have ever known about cancer, and it’s the way you do it.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Good, DeAnn. You can do this.

      A few tweaks:

      I am a writer… It took awhile for me to come to this. It started on Facebook and with my cancer journey. A friend said, why [“Why} don’t you write a book?”

      I told him [said], a [“A] book? I am a nobody. I am not some celerity [celebrity] or someone that [anyone who] I feel people may want to read my [a] book [about].

      He [delete then] tells me, what [“What] you are is posative [positive], informative, and you tell it like it is. You have taught me more than I [delete have] ever known [knew] about cancer, and it’s the way you do it.”

  • Carol

    Wow! I’ve been a GREAT writer in my own mind – as that’s as far as any real writing has taken me. Aside from documenting things in resident’s charts, sending assistance letters out for a missions trip, and pithy statements on Facebook, I’ve not written AnYThinG!! well, but for those 40 years of journal entries, no one’s been privy to but my own self… Reading over a few of the blogs this afternoon, the Rose Colored Glasses have come off! Looks like it’s time to push up my virtual shirt sleeves and WORK! At least study – perhaps the student will show herself worthy of the work. God’s given me an affinity for words, may the love bear good fruit for the kingdom. Thanks Jerry and Co.!! (pardon the avatar – it needs some work…)

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      Well said, Carol. Now, let’s talk you out of multiple exclamation points for your first lesson today, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow. :)

      • Carol

        You’re a good man Mr. Jenkins. My first critique – relatively painless. May the learning commence…

  • I am a writer — thanks to you and many others who are teaching me along the way.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      :)

  • Gary Townsend

    I AM a writer! I’ve written 230,000+ words of fiction so far this year, mostly short fiction — short stories, novellas, novelettes. (My goal is 400,000.) Whether any of of it is good or not is another matter, but I’ve been reading a lot about different aspects of fiction writing, making a deliberate attempt to make changes to improve it, and I think it’s getting better. Even the way I go about editing has been changing. And despite these changes/improvements, I still often think what I’ve written is crap. But even that is changing, too. And I don’t mean that I’m thinking my writing is crap less and less. I mean that I’m finally starting to embrace that my thinking my writing is crap most likely won’t go away, so I’m embracing it.

    • Jerry B Jenkins

      I say whatever motivation works, Gary. For me, even after a long and insanely more productive career than I deserve, I use fear of failure and fear of being found out :) as my motivators. Whatever it takes to force from our best work every time…

  • Jane

    I know I am a writer because I feel like I need to tell my story. I have so much things to tell to people especially young girls that they can relate to what I have to tell them. It started a while ago when I started to face many challenges in my life at young age so I started to confide in my roommate, then one day she said why do I not start writing a book that many young girls out there will start to read that will help them not to go through the same things that I went though. so I am a writer because I want to relate with many young girls who are going through the same things that I went through in my life. I was very young and alone. I feel like so many girls out there do not have people that they talk to with whatever the challenge that they may encounter in their lives. writing makes my heart to pour out all the times I am writing, it is where I find peace. Every time I am in pain, I take all the pain through writing which eases the pain