The first journal my parents ever gave me was a Goosebumps journal. The cover was black and purple with colorful spiders settling on their webs.
There were many professions I wanted to be when I was a kid: scientist, artist, adventurer, and a pokémon master. “Writer” wasn’t one of them until I started pouring my childhood life into my little Goosebumps diary.
I lost the journal. It went missing sometime between the many moves I had as a military brat. I forgot about journaling until I had a glimpse of what I wanted to do in the 7th grade, somewhere along the lines of writing.
I’ve been journaling for 16 years, from 2003 to now. The journal count: over 60. Some of them are cramped in a bookcase, stuffed in my closet, or lying somewhere else around my house.
Writing this whole time has taught me a few great lessons:
1. I’m a writer, whether I’m paid or not
You know the drill. You mention to somebody you write, and they say: “Writers don’t make money.”
Most of the time, people who said this are not writers. They consume writing but don’t write themselves. They read hundreds of books, online articles, and magazines, but never written a gosh darn thing. Probably nothing longer than a casual 50-word e-mail or text.
Guys, don’t listen to these folks. I almost did.
There was a time I carried the toxic belief I had to be paid to be considered an official writer.
I can’t call myself a writer until my name was published somewhere. I can’t tell people I’m a writer until I landed my first $1,000.
Crap. All of it is crap.
Whether you write for free, paid, or for yourself, you’re still a writer. Actions speak louder than words.
2. Writers have infinite opportunities
“Oh, I don’t think there’s a writing position out there for me.”
Hold up, let me tell you there are more writing opportunities out there than you can count:
- Academic writer
- Book reviewer
- Editor (they count too!)
- Food critic
- Freelance writer
- Investigation journalist
- Movie critic
- News reporter
- Product writer
- Technical writer
- Travel writer
I can go on! Start writing and see where it takes you.
3. I’m more than one kind of writer
For the longest time, I only thought of myself as a scriptwriter. I didn’t think I was great at anything else. Somehow, I ended up becoming a book blogger. It all came from writing. I couldn’t stop the voices in my head, and it has landed me in some unexpected areas.
4. Consistency = Success
Do you know any writers who had overnight success publishing one piece of work?
Aspiring writers often give up because they don’t see progress after their first attempt.
There was a time I thought I failed at playwriting after numerous competition rejections. I realized they didn’t have any power to stop me from writing. I make the final decision to keep writing or not.
The same applies to freelance writing pitches. If I receive a rejection or no response from a busy editor, I move on to the next writing gig. No problem.
Success comes when you keep moving. I received my first paycheck on Medium last October.
It’s not much, of course, but it’s enough to let me know how much farther I can go.
5. Writing is an infinite journey
“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” -Lawrence Kasdan
Writing doesn’t stop on the weekend. It doesn’t stop when you’re tired. Go to sleep, wake up, and write again.
Writing goes on in a never-ending cycle of drafting, editing, and publishing. If you love the results from the process, you’ll have no problems. Keep moving. Many rewards come from this endless performance.
Journaling for so long has taught me I have what it takes to be a writer. Nobody can tell me otherwise.