I used to be one of those people. “I like to write,” I’d say. Or “I teach writing.”

It took me a long time to be able to say, “I’m a writer.”

It’s a title I didn’t really want to accept – like I wasn’t doing enough to BE a writer. I was missing something essential – a publication, perhaps, a room of my own, a muse . . . who knows? I just couldn’t claim the title.

Until I decided this: a writer is a person who writes. Okay, I’ll go a little bit further than that – after all, I don’t consider grocery lists writing most of the time, and most tweets would not fall into my category of “writing.” A writer is a person who writes and who cares, from a place deep in their being, about the effect their words have on a person.

It’s that simple. “Being a writer” doesn’t have to do with publication or credentials. It certainly doesn’t have to do with what you write – romance novels, scientific queries, term papers – if you write something and care about the way it changes the person who reads it, you are, by my definition a writer.

So all of you out there using “not being a writer” as an excuse to not really pursue your passion or who think that someone outside of you has to validate this identity you have, STOP IT.

Instead, ask yourself these two questions – do you put words on the page? Are you invested in the way those words are received and how they make a difference in the life and mind of the person who reads them? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, you are a writer.

What you do with that identity, that’s what’s really important.

How do you define what it means to be a writer? Did you find that title hard to claim for yourself? Why or why not?