Let me talk about amateur writers and why I think that’s a fine thing. I’ve seen the idea tossed around that people who only write once a year aren’t writers. While I do agree that it is easier to have a long-term and sustainable professional career if one writes every day, that’s not an actual requirement for being a writer.
Allow me to point out a few writers have only written one novel, ever.
- Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
- Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
- Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago
- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
- J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
- Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
- John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
To be fair, some of them died young, some wrote other things. Then there are writers like Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon) who writes a novel about every fifteen to twenty years.
My point is that I don’t think it’s the quantity of your output or the frequency with which you write that determines the value of the words or even if one should be “allowed” to call oneself a writer. No one is going to tell an amateur musician that she’s not really a musician. So why do think that a person can’t write for fun and still call herself a writer?
I fall into this trap too. The number of times I’ve hit a milestone and thought “Finally! I’m a real writer” is just ridiculous. I’ve been a writer for a long time. What I actually mean is “Awesome! Someone paid me!” or “Woot! I love this magazine!” or “OMG! I can haz novel!”
Those are all external indicators of something that I should have already known ie I’m a writer.
Granted, before I made a sale, I was an amateur writer but all that meant was that I wrote because I loved it. That is, after all, what it means. Amateur does not mean poor quality, it means for the love, specifically, “a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.”
Why, in heavens name, would anyone stigmatize writing for the love of writing?
All that does is make people hide their work. Are we really interested in creating an in environment where people are ashamed of the fact that they enjoy writing? These are people who love the written word!
Now, I do think it’s fair to annoyed by people who want to be professional writers but don’t want to put in the time. But that’s an entirely different thing from someone who wants to write, loves it, and just isn’t very good at it. Yet.
Put in the time. Enjoy being an amateur. Write.