5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Writer
The cat’s out of the bag. I’m a writer!
Believe it or not, even though I’ve been writing this blog for about 5 years now and have self-published two books, I’ve never really considered myself a writer. In fact I am constantly amazed that people actually read this stuff.
In my opinion writers write for an audience and expect to get paid. I don’t. But earlier this week one of my colleagues called me a writer in front of a bunch of other people and it reminded me that regardless the amount of money I receive or the number of readers I have, that’s not what makes me a writer.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about the craft of writing that in my opinion make people writers.
1 – Writers Define Their Audience.
I write for an audience of one, me. I write about some pretty complex concepts; God, theology, money, economics, finance, ethics, philosophy, business, politics, and more. But I don’t write to impart my wisdom on the world. I write to express my thoughts and to help me figure out what I believe. All of my writing in one way or another is just a journal of what I’m learning. If you want to join in that process, be my guest, the more the merrier but don’t think I have all the answers. Most of the time I walk away from my computer screen with more questions than I started with. I guess that’s why I keep coming back.
2 – Writers Don’t Censor Themselves.
There are things I have written in the past that I would never write today. That’s okay because this is a process. As I learn more I refine my thinking. The things I said last year, last month or even last week might not apply to what I believe today. I make no apologies for that. If it’s on my mind, it will eventually come out in the pages of this blog and maybe even make it into one of my books. And if I change my mind on a subject, I’ll let you know. But if I edited everything I thought before I wrote it down none of this would exist.
3 – Writers are Open to Debate.
I’ll be honest, I don’t like to debate. I find I get too emotional and end up either angry sad or ashamed of myself. But it’s only through debating that we can learn new things. At least that’s my opinion please don’t debate me on it.
Perhaps a better way of saying it is that writers listen to those who have a differing opinion. They might teach you something or at the very least help you refine your argument. By listening you don’t have to come back with some clever counter argument and defend your position you can simply nod and say, “hmm, that’s interesting how did you come up with that?” This way you continue to learn and you don’t end up looking like an ass.
4 – Writers Don’t Hide It.
This is the one that my colleague really drove home to me this week. For a long time I would write and not tell anyone, sure I published my writing on a blog but I kept the blog a secret from the people closest to me. It was just easier to publish semi-anonymously and have discussions on line with people I’ve never met than it was to let my friends and colleagues in on what I was thinking. That all changed this week when this guy, a manager at my day job, stumbled across my e-book “6 Steps to Financial Freedom” and was so impressed that he emailed a bunch of other managers in the company and told them all to read it! There’s no hiding now, I may as well embrace it.
(Shameless Plug!) You can get your own copy here…
Which brings me to my final point…
5 – Writers Embrace Their Brand.
If you are going to be a writer, to a certain extent you are going to become a brand. Whether you write for an audience of one or for a mass market the brand is wrapped up in who you are and what you think. Don’t be shy about it. You are who you are and if people resonate with that and want to join your tribe, so be it. If they don’t, that’s okay too, just don’t pander to an audience you don’t like. There are plenty of writers out there. If people don’t like your stuff I’m sure they can find somebody who is writing the kinds of things they want to hear just like there are plenty of people in the world who are interested in what you have to say. Change your opinion if you have to because you have genuinely re-thought an issue but not to keep a reader happy.
What have I missed? Are there any other fundamental traits that writers carry?
Have you defined your audience yet? Who do you write for?
Send me your answers in the comment section below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org