22 Things You Don’t Have To Do To Be A Real Writer

On November 26th, author Tim Federle asked a very good question that garnered hundreds of responses from the literary Twittersphere: “Writers who’ve been at it a while, what’s one piece of craft advice you wish your younger self had known?”

There are some really good responses from writers across the world, from lifestyle suggestions to practical pointers to political calls to action. I offered my own thoughts via Tweet, but the more I thought about it, the more I found I had to say on the subject, namely the subject of what “real writers” are supposed to do or be in order to be valid. I labored under many of these false expectations for a long time, and it caused a fair number of existential crises. So here are 22 things you don’t have to do or be in order to be a real writer:

1. You don’t have to write every day.

2. You don’t have to always enjoy writing.

3. You don’t have to like what you wrote.

4. You don’t have to be an introvert.

5. You don’t have to be a hermit.

6. You don’t have to be miserable.

7. You don’t have to be damaged.

8. You don’t have to be drunk.

9. You don’t have to be “quirky.”

10. You don’t have to be a “serious” writer.

11. You don’t have to finish everything you start.

12. You don’t have to pick a single genre.

13. You don’t have to carry a notebook with you everywhere.

14. You don’t have to do extensive worldbuilding.

15. You don’t have to do extensive outlining.

16. You don’t have to talk to people about your writing.

17. You don’t have to let other people read your stuff.

18. You don’t have to be a good editor.

19. You don’t have to be a good marketer or salesperson.

20. You don’t need a social media platform.

21. You don’t have to make money from writing.

22. You don’t have to publish.

Things you do have to do to be a real writer:

1. Write.

It’s that simple. Do you write? Have you written sometime in the past? Will you write more in the future, at some point? Then you are a real writer. No one can argue with it or demand you change it. Now go, write something!

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