Punishing things people say: if you aren’t writing then you aren’t a writer. True, in the most literal sense of the word, but it ends up slamming a door in the face of lots of people hoping to get in. You could say, instead: to be a writer you have to practice, every day, and be willing to be bad at it, and not enjoy it sometimes. And when you have done that enough, you will be a writer. Don’t spend too much time asking, what have I written so far, as if that is the measure of your potential. Look forward. Ask yourself, am I willing to write, write every day, feel bad about myself, and keep trying?

Some writers can’t stop themselves from writing. And some have to tie themselves to a chair to get it done. I am that one. And if you are thinking about it that hard, then it’s something you want. And that’s a beginning.

It has taken me decades to understand and accept the premise that to become a writer you must train, the same way you train for a competitive sport. The idea that I didn’t understand that before astonishes me. How could I be so naïve? How did I grow up thinking talent was a kind of magic, or voodoo, that no work was involved, only hoping, and/or finding someone who could determine whether or not you had the Gift, the way geneticists can tell if you will or will not develop Huntington’s? I have wasted so much time waiting for a diagnosis, instead of learning how to write.