I want you to do something, right now.
I mean it, right this minute, where ever you are.
Say this out loud: I AM A WRITER.
How did that feel? If it felt great — hell, yes! That’s awesome.
But, it’s okay if it felt like a lie. Say it anyway. And keep saying it until you make it true. Just — while you’re doing it, keep writing.
Trust me when I tell you that I get how hard it is to make the mental leap to considering yourself a writer. I’ve heard people say that they won’t do it until they’re a best seller or until someone makes a movie out of one of their books (To be fair, none of those people were published. I’d be willing to bet they change their mind the first time they see a book with their name on it.)
Hopefully your own criteria for when you’ll feel like a writer is somewhat more reasonable than being on a best seller list.
I made a decision when was very young that I’d officially call myself a writer the first time I got paid for something I’d written, and then used that money to pay a bill. That’s Stephen King’s criteria for success and it felt right to me. That turned out to be an article about dog friendly restaurants in Las Vegas. I was paid ten bucks. I used it to fill my gas tank (this was the early 1990s!), and a few weeks later I wrote “writer” on my daughter’s kindergarten registration form.
I’m glad that I set the “I’m a writer” bar fairly low. I probably would have given up years ago if I’d decided I needed to be traditionally published first. Or worse, that I had to be a best seller.
I called myself a writer well before it was obvious to anyone else that I was. As a direct result of that, I mustered up the nerve to apply for a job as a newspaper reporter, when I didn’t have a college degree or any experience (I got that job.) I believed I was a writer and that formed my vision of myself.
If you’re holding back from telling people that you’re a writer because you think maybe it’s not okay to say it if you’re not published or you haven’t written a novel yet or no one’s paid you anything — here’s me giving you permission to just do it. Break whatever rule you think there is about who gets to say that they’re a writer.
You get to, Ninja Writer. Today. The next time someone asks you what you do. When you look in the mirror and need a boost. You are a writer. It’s okay to own that.
Yesterday, we talked about long goals and ten year plans for reaching those goals. Today, I want you to think about the first steps that will get you there. Starting with calling yourself a writer.
But also? I think we can probably all agree that whatever your long-range goal is, the first real step is writing your first (or next) book. Finishing it, all the way to the end.
I think you can reach that shorter term goal by the end of 2018.
Just say this out loud right now: I’m a writer, and I’m going to write a novel in 2018.
When we’re done with the 31 Day Challenge, you’re going to have a story idea all developed and tested for it’s ability to hold up a novel. Either the book you’re already working on, or something new. And then, starting June 1, we’re going to start with plotting and work all the way through writing that book.
Here’s a fun fact. About 20 percent of the people on my mailing list will open this email. Only a tiny fraction will actually finish writing their books, no matter how many say they want to. Decide to be one of those. There is nothing as amazing as finishing a book. Be the five percent!
We’re having a Ninja Write-a-Long starting June 1 — a six month adventure, where we’ll all write our books from planning through self-editing.
Did you already say “I am a writer, and I’m going to write a book in 2018” out loud? Good. Now, say it out loud to another person. You can practice by coming to say it in our Facebook group.
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Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nationand the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.
Do you have a writing question you’d like me to answer? Send it to email@example.com with DEAR SHAUNTA in the subject line.
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