You may not even realize it yet, but you’re already a writer. The simple fact that you’ve picked up pen and paper-okay, tablet and keyboard, and pounded out words, albeit messy, angsty words (been there, done that) means you’re a writer. Don’t doubt it.

But what separates the wanna-be writers from the gonna-be published authors is good old-fashioned hard work and commitment. Talent is only a small part of becoming a published author. Many people can be taught to write, but few have the passion and the drive to see it through to THE END, pun intended.

Even as I type this, I’m going through hard, messy life circumstances. Most days I can’t find the creativity to write a pithy Facebook or twitter status let alone a scene in my current WIP (work-in-progress), #AngelWarz. Many days the emotion I need to get on the page has already been spent on real life. Writing is hard even when times are good. So how does a writer (and remember YOU are one) get past all the obstacles to writing and just write?

Honestly, I haven’t a clue, but what I know is that if you’re a writer, it’s impossible not to write. Side note: if you can power down your laptop and never miss looking at a blank page, run. Run far and fast. Only the terminally insane will choose this kinda life, so I’ve been told.

I think writers’ brains are wired differently. When we see a homeless person pan handling, we see a tragic story and before we pass by, we’ve created his entire backstory and a character “begging” to tell his story. And we do tell his story, at least in our heads. The hardest part is getting our ideas down on paper.

When I finished my first novel 15 years ago, I just sat down at the keyboard and wrote my heart out. I had no idea there was something called story structure or POV or head hopping or backstory. I was one of those high school students who got As when I wrote something. Either my teachers were illiterate, or I had a gift of storytelling which overshadowed my grammatical errors. To this day I don’t know how I did it. I didn’t create outlines, I just wrote. But when I sent my first real fiction “baby” off to critique partners and editors I got a rude awakening. There was so much I didn’t know, evidenced by all the red on my pages.

But over the years I’ve studied, attended writing conferences, listened to podcasts, and read craft books. And I’ve improved; even have a couple of novels traditionally published. But all the studying and learning won’t help you improve if you’re not writing.

Now let me be perfectly clear. I understand you’re busy. You have work or school, family/friends, other hobbies. That’s good. Your life should be full and well-rounded. Yes, writing takes a lot of time and commitment, but it shouldn’t be your entire life.

There will be days and weeks, even months that go by when you just can’t write a word to save your hide, but that’s okay. Cut yourself some slack and do what you can do. Chances are you’re not on deadline, and you don’t have a cigar-chomping editor standing over your shoulder, breathing down your neck.

Writing is only part of being a writer. Even when you’re not stringing sentences together, you’re still writing. Don’t dis your impromptu brainstorming session about the predicament you got your character into. Or the spark of an idea that comes when you’re people watching.

So, you see, even when you’re not writing, you’re writing. You’re a writer. You may not have a finished novel, but repeat after me. I am a writer. Say it. Believe it. Live it. Write it!

They say those who can’t, teach. I say those who have a passion, inspire others to greatness. That’s why I teach. Sure, I have several fiction and nonfiction published books out, not to mention hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. However, my passion is to inspire release the writer in you and take your writing to the next level.

I host a weekly podcast called Teen Writers Publish on writing for teens and adults. I’ve homeschooled my four children, taught in private and public schools, and mentored writers for years on Writer…Interrupted. I also teach and tutor elementary, middle school, and high school students in creative writing and composition as well as offering private classes and for adults. So even though I can and do write, I also teach. Because nothing is more satisfying than helping someone find their voice and write their story!