"Don’t ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer." -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I first heard that quote in the movie Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Kind of a random place to hear such a fantastic quote, but there it is. And yes, I know that movie wasn't all that great but I don't care. I like it anyway. This post isn't about my enjoyment of oddball early '90s films starring Whoopi Goldberg though; rather, it's about what that particular quote means to me and how it's influenced my writing.
I've written a lot over the years: short stories, drawer novels, news articles, blog posts, research papers, academic articles, and the list goes on and on. I try to write every day now, whether it's a post on Free the Princess, a random freelance article I had an idea for, a short story, or a guest post for a friend's blog. I put words to paper (words to screen, what have you) at least a little bit every day. Sometimes it's only 5 minutes, but that's 5 minutes more than I wrote before.
I'm pretty much constantly thinking about writing in some form or another. It's not always the novel I should be writing, or my non-fiction Steampunk work, or any one particular thing, but I am always thinking about it. You might imagine then that this gets a tad confusing in my messed up little head. Not really, truth be told. I've done this juggling act long enough that keeping the proverbial plates spinning is actually pretty darn easy.
The full crux of Rilke's quote didn't hit me until a few years ago. If you're a writer, you should write. It doesn't matter what it is, it doesn't matter who sees it, and it sure as heck doesn't matter if it's good or bad. Just write. That's what I think Rilke's main point was -- no one can tell you when you've become a "real" writer because there's no such thing as a "real" writer.
Am I a real writer because I write as much as I can wherever I have the opportunity to do so? I think I am. Do I think about writing from the first moment I wake up? More or less -- my typical first thought is actually "oh crap it's morning already?" -- my second thought is definitely about what writing I'm going to do that day though. If we go with Rilke's quote as the determinant for what makes a "real" writer, then I'd say I qualify.
What about you? Is your first thought of the day about writing?