You’re Still a Writer if You Don’t Write All the Time

Because I take so many breaks from writing (and took a week-long break not too long ago), I feel the need to weigh in on something that has plagued me for years: the idea that not writing every day strips the title of “writer” from a person’s being.

While I have yet to have someone tell me to my face that I’m not a “true writer” because I don’t write on the daily, an old creative writing professor of mine and multiple articles about writing have certainly insinuated it.

The idea that you must write every day in order to consider yourself a writer is pretty ridiculous and definitely unhealthy, especially for people with full schedules or mental illnesses.

Here’s a hint to what I think should be the mentality: so long as you enjoy writing, you’re a writer.

That doesn’t mean you’re a best-selling author or well-known poet or have any awards. It also doesn’t mean you write every moment of every day. You don’t have to be anywhere close to either of those to be able to consider yourself a writer.

The idea of putting stipulations on a title we can give ourselves feels so flawed, like there’s some kind of gatekeeper barring the way to being a “writer” because you have to write a certain number of words per day or week or month. There are only two times that should matter:

  1. You have a deadline or quota that must be met for your job.
  2. You’re participating in National Novel Writing Month (or something similar).

All you have to do is enjoy and appreciate the act of writing, even if you don’t get to write often. In my opinion, you never really stop being a writer—you simply take pauses in your writing.

As someone who has struggled for the majority of my creative life, I find it comforting to read about others’ struggles to feel worthwhile. It isn’t quite that misery loves company; it’s simply nice to not feel broken and alone. It’s similar to finding someone who has also experienced similar anxiety to mine—it creates a unique sense of community.

What are your own experiences with taking pauses from writing?
What have you heard about what “makes a writer”?

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