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A couple friends of mine have both recently written about the label “writer” and how awkward it feels to apply it to one’s own self. I’m by no means as talented or prolific as Hoops or Mazvita. But I have been bitten by the writing bug.

It began when I was a child. I wrote a lot. Short stories, books, poetry, essays… I had notebooks and computer disks full of stuff I’d written. When I was in late elementary school, I created a neighborhood newspaper (the Teacup Gazette, if you’re curious). I started writing fan fiction when I was in middle school. I started blogging in college.

For years, I’ve turned to writing as an outlet for thoughts and feelings that, as an introvert, I’m not likely to express in conversation. I also have a slight creative edge that compels me to look at books, movies and tv shows and ask “what if?” This has resulted in countless fan fiction stories that I’ve HAD to write, just to get the ideas and dialogue out of my brain.

I’ve always kept a notebook by my bed, so if an idea starts eating my brain, I can write it down so I can get some sleep. Likewise, I keep paper in my car. And at work, I’ve always got an empty Notepad file open, ready to collect my word-vomit when some notion strikes. Just about every blog entry I’ve ever posted started off this way – a blank Notepad file, absorbing whatever thoughts I can’t keep inside.

I’ve never been particularly good at writing. From time to time I hit the right note and it resonates as I want it to. But for the most part, my writing ends up in folders (physical and digital), incomplete and unread. I lack the discipline and training to really do the work required to FINISH a piece – whether it’s a blog entry, a fan fic story, or something more substantial.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even say that I enjoy writing. When an idea starts nagging me, I don’t look forward to putting it down in writing. While I’m writing, I’m not thinking much about the process, I”m just trying to get the words out as quickly as possible. I absolutely hate revision. I don’t feel much satisfaction when I’m done. I just know I HAVE to write. If I don’t, ideas come back to pester me and distract me.

But writing is a part of me. It’s a way I process my thoughts, a way I can sometimes connect to other people when my natural instinct is to keep to myself. But that elusive label, “writer”… just like “photographer,” “designer,” “musician”… I’ll leave the labels to people who’ve put in the work to earn them.