“How did you become a writer?” I’m sure this innocent question is among the top most frequently heard by those of us in the writing community. To be fair, it’s probably one of the most asked of people with “interesting” professions. The answer is even more interesting: most of us did not become--we were born writers.
This isn’t to say that nurses aren’t natural caregivers or teachers are not born to be educators. Everyone has a gift. A true writer cannot ‘not write’, no matter how hard he or she tries. Writers spring from the womb full of words, whether they’re spoken or only written. We see stories in everything, and are often the weird kids at school who always have our noses stuck in books, the ones who live for book reports because that means one more book that can be devoured.
Now, there is an argument that writers can be grown, and certainly, a person can be taught to write correctly. I’ve seen quite a few books and stories that had absolutely no grammatical errors or misspellings, yet they were missing the passion that drives the words of a writer. The stories had no soul. Conversely, I’ve read works where there were several mistakes to be found, but the story was so compelling and driven by heartfelt emotion that I kept reading. The words leapt from the page and demanded to be consumed.
So how does one know if he or she is a born writer? For starters, as I mentioned above, a true writer cannot stop writing. There are times when market shifts and rejection notes pile up and the only thought running through the writers’ head is, “I’m not doing this anymore.” And yet, on the celebratory walk to commemorate the decision to live a different life by throwing away all things writerly, he will spot a couple on a bench, read their expressions…and run home to write their story.
You’re probably a writer if most of your sentences begin with, “What if…” Your friends will always say you’re the person who thinks of the craziest scenarios and sees things they usually don’t see in situations and people.
If your children have grammatically correct, page long absence excuse notes, you’re probably a writer.
When you think of never earning a cent from your writing works, and yet you still continue to write, you’re probably a born wordsmith. Writers will write even when they’re not sure they have an audience.
If people often tell you your words move them, and you’re told you have a compelling way of speaking or writing, you could be a writer. Your way with words will stick with you and evolve as you do.
Most importantly, if you have ever completed a story or a novel or an article, memoir, etc., you are probably a writer. Most people who talk about writing do only just that. Because you’ve actually done it, you may want to pursue the words that come to you.
Once you’ve determined you were born to write, the easy part is done. The hardest part, and the part that will forge the steel of your writing ability is the part where you get down to writing. Writers write. Writers write a lot. If it’s your gift, then you’re charged with sharing it with others. You’re also responsible for nurturing the gift and making it even better.
What are you waiting for?