I’m a new runner. I’ve only been at it for a few months, after walking my very first 5K last year. I’m still overweight, so I’m far from fast, and I’m such a rank newbie that I often ask myself whether or not I can actually call myself a runner. I mean, don’t you have to run a marathon to count? Or run five days a week for a certain number of miles?
I have a subscription to Runner’s World. I bought specialty running shoes at a running store after a proper fitting. I am following a 5K training plan, even though I can’t run more than a few minutes at a time. When do I get to call myself a runner?
This insecurity isn’t limited to running. Or to any sport. Writers experience this as well. Every so often, someone will come to the NaNoWriMo forums to ask, “When can I call myself a writer?”
There have been some pretty controversial articles on this subject on the web. Many people feel that you can’t call yourself a writer until you’ve Written a Published Novel. Others think that you have to have something rejected a certain number of times (though no one can seem to agree on the proper number of professional rejections one must accumulate before Writerness adheres to your resume).
I found clarity in a comment to this blog post that asks when you can call yourself a true runner: “A runner is one who runs. If you run at all, you are a runner.”
If you write… you are a writer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a published author. Or writing crap. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ten years to perfect the Great American Novel, or 30 days to write your someday novel. Neither makes you “more” of a writer than the other! It doesn’t matter if you write blogs, cookbooks, literary fiction, fantasy, romance, or autobiographies. What matters is that you write.
A writer is one who writes!
Often, our critics will tell us that NaNoWriMo promotes the idea that anyone can be a writer. You know what I say to those critics?
That’s the point. Anyone can be a writer. It’s not about writing the perfect literary novel, or even something that a publisher would ever want. Many of our writers are writing for fun, and never have any intention of publishing their NaNoWriMo novels. I think that’s totally okay!
So the next time someone tries to tell you that you’re not a writer because you haven’t done XYZ, or because you didn’t spend enough time on something you wrote, or didn’t do it to their personal specifications, smile and walk away. You know something magical, and they don’t yet.
I’m a runner, because I run. I’m a writer, because I write.
And that’s all that matters!
Photo by Flickr user savageblackout.