Putting Pen To Paper Does Not Make You A Writer

image - Flickr / Adam Mulligan
image – Flickr / Adam Mulligan

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point we lost our way. Maybe it was when we got trophies despite getting our asses kicked on the field, or maybe it was the time that teacher let us advance in the class spelling bee despite spelling the word incorrectly, because, my gosh, we sure tried hard.

Maybe it was our parents giving us their version of ‘tough love’ that was anything but tough, or television showing us we could get famous despite possessing anything but qualities that warrant fame. (The fact that I even know what a Kardashian is pisses me off.)

We find ourselves in a society where people think the pasta they made for dinner is so important, so relevant, so fucking beautiful, that they need to take a picture of it and post it for all to see on Facebook and Instagram.

If we’re lucky they may even Tweet a link to it.

Have you checked out YouTube lately? It’s full of tweens who think they can sing, rap, dance, play an instrument, recite poetry, deliver a soliloquy on the flaws of mankind based upon their scientific exploration of World of Warcraft that surely, should we just listen, would solve the problems in Gaza.

Nobody ever told them “Son, perhaps you should try something else because, I’m not really sure how to say this… well, you’re a shitty singer.” Or, “Sweetie, that dance video you posted was the whitest shit I’ve ever seen. Don’t do that again.” Or, “Your little rant on WOW and Gaza… well, actually, that makes much more sense than our current strategy, so I’ll leave that one alone.”

We didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so we just co-signed the bullshit they were slinging and told them they were great. That they sang beautifully. The voice of an angel. Keep it up, kid, you’re going places.

Let’s not let this attitude of apathy and delusion seep into writing. Someone who writes is not a writer any more than a high school freshman who passed his history test is a historian.

You want to write? Then fucking say something. Something that’s going to teach me, or cut me, or hurt me, or heal me. Write something that’s going to make me different than I was before I read it. Write something that’s going to stay with me, that’s going to force me to carry it with me whether I want to or not. We’re all capable of it. We’ve all gone through some seriously traumatic shit because life is seriously traumatic, and we participate by default.

Don’t give me the writing-equivalent of Justin Bieber and call yourself a writer. Someone wrote “You know what’s worse than writing something that isn’t worth a damn? Writing nothing.”


I would rather NOT read your lifeless, heartless, emotionless, irrelevant bullshit than read it. Not writing it might be the best decision you made today.

You want to be a writer? Be willing to sit down and bleed on a page. Be willing to open up the ugliest parts of yourself for the world to see. Be so brutally honest that you begin to hate yourself, realizing that this is only way to start the healing process. Share your pain, that comes from a place so deep you didn’t even know it was there until it was too late. Touch me. Inspire me. Don’t make me want to write. Make me NEED to write.

Make me need to write because I don’t know how else to deal with what you just told me.

Make me never want to write again because I’ll never be able to do what you just did.

And if you don’t want to go there, that’s OK too. I get it. Believe me, I get it. It can be ugly and painful and brutal and emotional. Just don’t call yourself a writer.

Putting pen to paper does not make you a writer. Monkeys can do it. My three-year-old son can do it. And yes, I just put my son and a monkey on the same equivalency scale.

Writing comes from the depths of human emotion and experience. Let’s not lose that. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared at Medium.

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