Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Be A Writer, Not An Author


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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21 comments:

  1. An author is telling you that you've made it, it is what you get for being a good writer. So i agree that your focus should be at becoming a great writer, then the author title will come by itself. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! It can be really hard to focus on the writing instead of the publishing, but I'm convinced that it will be better in the long run. =) I'm glad you enjoyed.

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    1. Awesome. Thanks for the kind comment!

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  3. Oh my God,Hannah! I totally saw myself when I read your post! Apart from looking dor agents and publishers, I've checked every single box... :P
    I hope your love for creating stories has been bringing you more joy than stress. ;)
    Take care.
    Dani

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    1. Wow. Thanks for the awesome comment, Dani! I always wonder if I'm the only one who has a hard time with stuff like this. It's good to meet other writers who struggle with the same things.
      Currently, my stories are bringing me a lot of joy. I hope it stays that way. =) Thanks for the well-wishes. Sending them right back at you! ;-)

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  4. I love to write, refer to myself as a scribbler. Great post

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    1. Scribblers are awesome! Thanks for reading!

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  5. I can totally relate to this struggle and you've expressed it so beautifully. I also got caught up in the "building your platform" and so forth, but came to the same conclusion you did. What's the point if there's no writing? It's nice to read about how you've struggled and how you handle it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Aw. Thank you, Alina! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Happy writing!

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  6. Hi Hannah. Just out of curiosity, why does your blogspot address end in .co.ke? Are you from Kenya? Oh and I love all your posts:-).

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    1. Hi Chandni! This is the first I've heard of my address ending in .co.ke. So weird. I'm definitely not from Kenya...I live in California. ;-) I have no idea why my address is showing up like that. =]
      Glad to hear you like my posts!

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    2. I think it is because blogspot is a global platform, for me it ends in .nl and I'm in the netherlands, so I assume everyone gets their local dot something...

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  7. Hey Hannah! I found your blog in a Pinterest pin. Really like your writing! Keep up the good job. :) I've subscribed!
    Amanda
    www.skgfun.com
    A blog and e-magazine, written by girls, for girls.

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    1. Thank you for subscribing, Amanda! I'm glad you enjoy my posts. Thanks for the sweet comment!

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  8. I also found your blog through a Pinterest pin. Thank you for knowing the practicality of writing ever before you've become an author. Which I'm not sure is a difference between a writer and an author. I write all the time for other people and have published a few books, so am I a writer or an author or both?

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    1. Happy to hear that you find my blog via Pinterest! I love that place. =)

      It sounds like you are both a writer and an author. Writers are people who write, and authors are people who have published work.

      Both are special, but many authors forget how to simply be a writer and enjoy crafting stories rather than frantically pushing to become published. So that's why it's best to be a writer above being an author. =)

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  9. I admire your dedication, Hannah, and wish I had even half as much ability to multi-task as you do. :) I have a blog, but I don't tweet much and things like Facebook scare the comfy sweatpants offa me. So I'm guessing I'm going to totally suck as an author, which means being a writer is the only option left to me.

    Wendy Christopher (http://wendychristo.blogspot.co.uk/ I did that because I've seen other commenters here do it and I can see why it's a good idea, but I still feel s sense of uncomfy shame from doing it. I'm going to have to hire someone to do all my PR, I think.)

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    1. Lol! Facebook scares me, too. I'm sure you're a great writer, and I'm sure you can be a an author, too. There are lots of non-Facebook and Twitter ways to do that. =D

      Thank you so much for the sweet comment and linking to your blog! Don't feel awkward about it. Though I always feel awkward doing it myself. =D Just know that I don't mind and always love reading other people's blogs! Keep up the amazing work!

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  10. I am so glad to find this blog post today. What you described is exactly how I'm feeling right now. I'm overwhelmed with all the social media aspects of platform building, and I have neglected my writing for months. Starting today, I'm going to get back to writing because it brings me joy. Platform building? Not so much. Thanks for telling me what I needed to hear.

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    1. I am so excited for you, Janet! It can get so overwhelming and it's hard to make that decision to step back and focus on your writing. Go you!

      Thank you for the neat comment!

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