If you look at my twitter bio, Pinterest bio, or even my blog bio, you will see that I call myself an ‘aspiring author.’ Becoming an author has been my goal for a while now, but it was only until after I finished and edited my entire 400 page novel that I began to chase after my dream.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do things by halves. I’m intense and I’m a perfectionist. This is good for a lot of things. Wait, I said that wrong. Being an intense perfectionist is horrible for a lot of things. It’s particularly horrible for writing.
I went after my dream with an intensity that can only come from a Heath. I started up a Pinterest account for writing and reading to gain followers, I started up a twitter to help build my author’s platform, I launched this blog to gain followers and hone my skills. I began working on synopsis’s and loglines for my book, rewriting them until they were as close to perfect as possible. I compiled lists of literary agents that I wanted to query, names of magazines I wanted to send short stories to. I started reading blogs about publishing and researched everything about the process of finding, getting, and keeping a literary agent.
I was determined to becoming an author, but in the process I had stopped being a writer.
I had lost myself in research and social media, completely ignoring my creative writing. Ignoring the reason I started out on this entire journey – my love for putting words on paper. I went almost three months without touching any of my stories. Each day I grew more and more frustrated…at least more frustrated than usual. My dream seemed to slip farther out of reach every day, and I didn’t even know why.
Then I came across a certain quote by a certain author, and I finally understood what had happened to me. Ironically enough, I found this certain quote when I was searching for a quote about writing to tweet (part of my platform-building technique). I was scrolling through a long list when this caught my eye:
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker
My first reaction was to laugh. Why would you want to prevent someone from writing? Writing is a joy, it’s a way to release stress, it’s….
And then I realized that she didn’t say that people who want to write should be shot. She said that people who want to become writers should be shot.
That’s when it sank in. I had become so caught up in becoming an author that I had lost the joy of simply writing. Then and there I decided to put all of my ‘author’ projects on hold so I could go back to being a writer. At first I was concerned that I might be making the wrong choice. What about my author’s platform? What about my query letters? My magazine submissions? What if, by letting them fall off to the side, I was hurting my dream of publishing?
But I sat down at my computer and started to work on my second book anyway. All of my concerns melted away in the face of my simple love for words. Now I’m back to being a writer. Sure, I still work towards becoming an author, but I make sure that I balance it out. I’m still on Twitter, Pinterest, I still look for literary agents and magazines, but my writing always comes first and foremost.
I hope that you aren’t letting yourself choose the path of authorship over the path of writing. I want you to stop and think. Are you an author or a writer? Have you let your ambitions for your writing overtake your love for creating stories? I hope not. But if you have, please slow down and think about which is more important – writing or being an author.
Being an author isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In this day and age, with ebooks and self publishing, anyone can be an author. But it takes a special kind of person to be a writer.
So tell me, what have you put highest on your list – authorship or writing? If you have put becoming an author first, I wouldn’t recommend that you shoot yourself. That’s a bit drastic. But I would advise you to take a little time to think about what makes you happy and what is simply an ambition that you think might make you happy. And once you decide, I hope you choose to chase after the one that you know gives you joy.
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