I’m not going to lie, I’ve gotten some negative feedback lately. And it hurts.
Here’s an anonymous email I got today:
“With all due respect (you seem like a nice person who wants to help others)–the proper usage is WHO –when referring to people/persons. People WHO want to…All over your website you use “that” instead –as so many (who have not studied the craft these days) who call themselves writers do. Crap writing everywhere. Just an FYI.”
I don’t know if my platform is starting to reach the point where I’m noticed more or what. Regardless, why do people feel the urge (and then carry it out) to be mean? Why does the internet cultivate this “anonymous” position where people don’t care about hurting other people’s feelings?
None of this is new. And it probably won’t be the last time I get some “constructive criticism.” So, I’ll get up, shake it off and keep moving forward. In the meantime though, I’d like to talk about the top two things that I think makes someone a ‘real’ writer (which I feel like this person inferred that I was not).
1. You Write
I’ve run a couple of half marathons and one full in my 30 years of life thus far. I actually just registered for the Chicago half marathon (which is at the end of September) the other day. I bring this up because when I started running, I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.
There was the resounding question of at what point you could consider yourself a ‘runner.’ I.e. how much mileage or what speed qualified you as a ‘real’ runner? There were some snobs of course, but the majority answered, that if you ran, you were a runner!
I think it’s the same with writing.
“If you write, you’re a writer.”
You don’t have to have a degree in journalism or have been an English major, to be considered a writer. You’re a writer because you write darn it!
2. You Get Paid to Write
If you’re good enough that people pay you to write for them or their company, you are certainly allowed to call yourself a professional writer. Guess what? If you get paid to write, it’s your PROFESSION! Hence, you’re a professional writer – weird, huh?
Ultimately, I consider myself a professional writer. I may make income in a diversified manner, but the majority of my monthly payroll comes from writing for clients.
Blogging Is Different than Journalism
There was an awesome article on Be a Freelance Blogger that outlined the history of blogging and where they thought it was going this year. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.
I enjoy blogging here and writing blog posts for my clients. I write articles and to tell you the truth, there’s no longer a cut and dry difference between the two when they appear online. People may have different perceptions or expectations, but the lines (as the article/blog post mentions) are blurring.
What I do know is that blogging is typically the medium that works best for me. You’re expected to write in a more conversational tone, and the goal is to tell a story, rather than be 100% grammatically correct. It doesn’t mean your writing should be quick, hurried or lazy. Just that it should make for a more interesting read more than anything. If you don’t engage the reader and keep their attention, it doesn’t matter what category you’re trying to fit into – no one’s reading!
You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
Where does this whole idea that you have to be perfect in order to be considered a ‘real’ writer come from? You know what I think defines a ‘real’ or professional writer? Someone that is brave enough to put their work out there – and gets paid for it! You know what? I’m NOT perfect – and clients still hire me and pay me well for my writing! GASP!
The game has changed people, and the average person doesn’t care about your grammatically perfect writing. They care instead about an interesting story. Something that is captivating (at times controversial), well organized and holds their interest until the end. I’ve proven that I can write that way – therefore I’m a ‘real’ writer.
How about you? Do you write? It doesn’t matter if it’s for fun or to try to get paid – I think you’re a real writer. Let’s just shake it off together, shall we?