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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Acting Like One

"You Are a Writer, So Start Acting Like One."

At least, that's what Jeff Goins tells us to do. He believes in his message so much, he's hosting a contest for his readers at http://youareawriter.com... and he wrote a book about it.

{Go buy it. I'll wait.}

So about this contest...

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to tell the world you're a writer…to tell yourself and make yourself believe it? 

Oh boy. 

This, perhaps?

I've been a writer as long as I remember, scribbling stories about elves on ripped notebook paper in my childhood bedroom, then later, heart-bare teenage angst about boyfriends (or the lack thereof). I never stopped writing but at some point I stopped believing I could "make it" as a writer and tucked my work into journal pages and computer folders, never to see the light of day.

I poured over the craft, unleashing myself to the words, to the page, and gazing starry-eyed at the authors I admired, the ones whose name splashed across book covers in block letters, the dream I couldn't dare to dream.

Until I did.

Someone once said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. I think, too, people are about as successful. Your definition of success may be different from mine, but all in all, your state of mind and what you declare about yourself has a lot to do with where you are and where you're going.

I was tired of people asking, "What do you do?" and not feeling the freedom to tell them I was a writer. I believed you weren't a writer until your name was on the cover a book and I believed I wasn't good enough for that, that I'd fail miserably and lose the only thing I was good at.  

The problem with that attitude, by the way is that writers write books. There will be no book cover if you aren't already a writer. I always knew I'd write forever, it was as much a part of me as my elbows, my eardrums…or more so. But fear paralyzed me from taking myself seriously and no one read my work. I didn't dare bring that which I loved most onto the chopping block. It was too sacred.

With no one to write for, the words became few. I talked myself into a more sensible career and tended to my family… and ached with the weight of what was trapped within.

To save myself, to save my gift, to resurrect the dream... I had to become what I already was. 

I made a choice I couldn't hide and I couldn't back down from and did what any normal, totally sane person would do and headed for the tattoo shop, branding myself with what I shied away from so easily. Making a declaration to the universe, to myself, the needle rose and fell, depositing lifelong ink beneath the skin of my wrist, blazing the badge that told the whole world. 

I am a writer.

Because when people ask about it (and everyone does), I have to declare myself to be what I am branded with. I have to present myself, despite my fears, as that which I know I am. I have to submit my work and keep trying because every day I see it, every day I explain it, and every day somebody asks what I'm working on. It's been a helluva motivator, I gotta tell ya.  

Because I fight hard against the odds, the fears, the failures and internal messages that threaten to kill the dream for me and this…this reflects the message that I cannot separate myself from writing. It's in me, it's on me, it is me.

Because when I grab the remote control or write checks or text on my cell phone, I see it. It reminds me what my hands ought to be doing. 

It was and is my only tattoo. Before I got it I hadn't published a single thing. (Daring move, I know.) I wasn't a writer yet…not by anyone else's standards, but I couldn't start there. I had to be a writer, believe I was a writer, to become a writer.

After? I published three magazine articles the month I got the tattoo, the first three I ever submitted. I started a blog. I won contests. I got sponsorships to writer's conferences. I had several pieces accepted for community book projects. I found serious joy in the thing I believe I was put here to be and to do.

After the joy, after the belief and the declaration, others started to believe it too. Publishers. Strangers. Tomorrow, I will be sending in a book proposal.

Now? The name-on-the-cover thing is just icing on the cake. It doesn't validate me or give me value, it simply confirms what I have already declared, what was declared about me when I was being created.

I am a writer.  

I don't believe anymore that you have to be published to be a writer. What I believe, though, is that you have to brand your mind and your heart with a permanence and a declaration and that you have to believe it to be true about yourself before anyone else will believe it about you. 

You are a writer.

Now start acting like one. 

Get. This. eBook. http://youareawriter.com
Do it. Right now, Slacker. Time's a' wastin'.

What's the craziest way you can think of to declare yourself a writer and announce it to the world? 


  1. WOW Cara you are - quite literally - a living, breathing example of the law of attraction in action! Way to go!!! And needless to say, your words speak for themselves; you are definitely a writer! And an excellent one, at that. :) Great to 'meet' you! I came over from Jeff's contest  and will be following along. 

    Oh, and p.s. - I'm a writer, too! ;)

  2. Awesome post. I was just musing about whether I'd enter Jeff's competition (it's getting a little close to the deadline) and I thought I'd check out the competition.

    Well...I think this entry is so dang good that I'd be inclined to award it straight away to you! Which renders the probability of my actually entering somewhat reduced...

    Great story of believing in yourself and owning what you already are. Lovely to have met you through Jeff.

  3. Great to meet you too, Eden. Thanks for coming by and for your kind words, friend. 

  4. I hope you win... that's ah.may.zing!

    Stumbled upon Jeff's contest today and have been clicking through several and found you.  I have to say... if I were to choose... you'd win.  I haven't seen anything even close! ;)

    Glad I came over... I'm your newest follower. ; )


  5. What a gracious, encouraging comment Heidi. Thanks so much for coming by and reading!

  6. I'd pick you, Cara. You are a writer. Like really, really. 

  7. Whoa. You got a tat for the contest?! Hardcore. ;)

  8. Yep. I believe in your book that much. You should make me the spokesperson. ;)

    Okay...so I got the tattoo before the contest but it IS how I announced to the world that I'm a writer and so far, it's proved a very effective strategy for thinking and acting like one!

  9. And you, Annie, are my hero. Like really, really.

  10. Wow, this is impressive. Keep writing! You are a writer.

  11. That is so awesome! I have a few tattoos- including one on my wrist- and each has an intentional message or reminder. I might have to add a writing-related one next.

    Best wishes on your book proposal!

  12. Awesome post Cara, and totally inspiring. I love the line, "
    It reminds me what my hands ought to be doing." Are you on blogger? 

  13. Not sure if you'll see this comment, two weeks late, but just wanted to say that yes, Cara Sexton, you ARE a writer. 

  14. I did see it, and thank you, sweet Jennifer. You bless me. So glad you're standing on board as this first big writer leap unfolds. :)


Your comments are such an encouragement. Thank you for sharing your valuable words.