“When Do I Become an Author?”

There are so many writers out there who donโ€™t realize they are a writer yet. This is why it is so common to see words of encouragement to them, reminding them that yes, they are writers. You, dear reader, are a writer.

You can read more about how youโ€™re a writer, even if youโ€™re not writing here.

But what about being an author? When does a person become an author?

The simple answer isโ€ฆwell, simple: if youโ€™re a writer, then youโ€™re an author.

If you have created something and penned it out, then you are the author of that creation. You are the author of the Tweet you send, the Facebook post you create, the journal you write in, and the stories you concoct. You are an author when you have written something.

This was actually something that I, myself, struggled to get my head around. Sure, Iโ€™m a writer because I write. I write stories. But the word โ€œauthorโ€ just felt so much more official and important. I felt as though the only way I could become an author instead of โ€œjustโ€ a writer was to be published.

However, this led me down a road of destination achievement, the idea that one will be ____ when ______ happens or is achieved. In my case, I would be an author when I was published. Except when I first got published, I found reasons why that didnโ€™t count. Then I published more, and still found reasons for it not to count. This went on and on until I realized that calling myself an author was the same thing as calling myself a writer: itโ€™s giving myself credit for the work that I do.

Which is exactly what you should be doing as well.

You are a writer. You are an author.

Here are some definitions of author:

Author โ€“ 1. The writer of a literary work (such as a book).
2. one that originates or creates something.

Merriam-Webster

Author โ€“ 1. The author of a piece of writing is the person who wrote it.
2. An author is a person whose job it is to write books.
3. The author of a plan or proposal is the person who thinks of it and works out the details.
4. To author something means to be the author of it.

Collins Dictionary

Author โ€“ 1. A person who writes books or the person who wrote a particular book.
2. The person who creates or starts something, especially a plan or idea.

Oxford Dictionary

Author โ€“ 1. A person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.
2. The literary production or productions of a writer.
3. The maker of anything; creator; originator.
4. Computers. The writer of a software program, especially hypertext or multimedia application.

Dictionary.com

There are a few things to notice about all of these definitions:

  1. Author appears to be synonymous with writer and creator
  2. Nowhere in those definitions does it say at what stage of the creation process that one becomes an author
  3. Nowhere does it say that one needs to be published to be an author

The bottom line is that you become an author when you decide that you are worthy of that title. And just like calling yourself a writer, you need to own that title and step into who you want to be.

Your Homework

Journal on these questions. Spend some time testing your answers and really get into it. Challenge and debate with yourself over your definitions until you find something that true to you.

  1. What is success to you?
  2. What is societyโ€™s definition of success?
  3. How do these definitions differ?
  4. Which carries more weight to you?
  5. Make a list of every time youโ€™ve succeeded by your definition.
  6. Make a list of every time youโ€™ve succeeded by societyโ€™s definition.
  7. Journal on the difference between the two lists. Which impacted you more then and now?
  8. What is failure to you?
  9. What is societyโ€™s definition of failure?
  10. How do these definitions differ?
  11. Which carries more weight to you?
  12. Make a list of every time youโ€™ve failed by your definition.
  13. Make a list of every time youโ€™ve failed by societyโ€™s definition.
  14. Journal on the difference between the two lists. Which impacted you more then and now?
  15. What does it mean to be a writer to you?
  16. What does it mean to be an author to you?
  17. What does it mean to succeed and fail as a writer?
  18. What does it mean to succeed and fail as an author?
  19. How do you define yourself in your craft?

Get a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror, your computer screen, or wherever youโ€™ll see it the most. You can even take a picture of it and make it your computer or phone background. What I want you to do is write โ€œI am a writer. I am an authorโ€ on it. And when you notice it, make sure you say it out loud to yourself, or at the very minimum, think with conviction.

The goal here is to get you comfortable with admitting what you are. When people ask what you do, you might tell them your day job, or you can tell them who you are at your core: an author.

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