Reflections on Writing Inspired by Jeff Goins’ “You Are a Writer”

Last night, I picked up a copy of Jeff Goins’ newest book You Are a Writer on a whim. After reading it a couple of times in one sitting, I came away with a few hard truths that I believe every writer must face at some point, whether they are at the start of their writing journey or standing at a crossroad.

You are a writer, so start acting like one.

Writers are born, not made.

One of the things Jeff wrote that really resonated with me is this:

“Every day, somewhere, a writer is born.

She comes into the world with a destiny: to share her words and proclaim a message. To make a difference.

These words have the power to move and motivate strangers, to shake the earth and rattle the heavens. If only she would share them.

It’s a choice, writing is. One that belongs to you and me. We get to choose it (or not) every single day. So whether or not the world hears your message – whether you leave the impact you were born to make – is entirely up to you.”

To be a writer is what I have always wanted. And I was told, repeatedly, by parents and teachers and friends and significant others and peers, that I had a gift for it. I even declared in all the arrogance only youth could muster that my pen will someday change the world. My schoolgirl years saw me pursuing writing avidly, coming up with some of the best compositions in school, contributing to school newspapers, taking up journalism in college, winning a writing award, connecting with people whom I thought would be my peers in the local literary world someday.

Then reality set in. I graduated from college and started looking for a job. Someone I respected told me the market for writers in the Philippines is very lean and I wouldn’t survive on the pay writers here typically get. My mistake was I listened to that person and did a 180 – I sought and found a job in corporate communications.

I’m sure this kind of story is not unique to me. I’m not the only writer I know who sold out to the rat race to survive. Maybe this is your story too.

Surviving is not living.

Having the money to pay the bills and do the things financially responsible adults are supposed to do is all well and good. But when you know in your heart that you’re meant to be doing something else and you’re just not doing it, it kills you. You won’t feel it, but deep inside your spirit would be dying a really slow death. It’s like taking slow-acting poison or ingesting a toxin.

Jeff Goins wrote:

“While some people are trying to make it through another week, others find themselves succeeding in the wrong things – and despairing as a result.

Make no mistake. All of us at some point wonder if what we’re doing matters.”

At some point, you will realize that surviving isn’t enough. If you know you’re a writer and you’re not doing what you know you were meant to do, you will always have that void inside of you that won’t be filled no matter how successful you become in other arenas.

I tried to fit into the corporate life. But the more I forced myself to live that life, the more I hated it. That person who did the morning commute dressed in a suit and heels was not me. I thought if I could do that sort of job and did my writing on the side, I would be okay. How wrong I was to think that way.

Embracing a dream is risky, but it’s definitely worth it.

It’s definitely scary, turning your back on what you have built so far and risking it all just to follow a dream you have already allowed to die. What if you fail? What if, despite all the risks that you took and the effort that you made, you ended up with nothing to show for it?

Jeff wrote:

“Real artists risk failure every time they release their work into the world. If your words are going to matter, you will have to do the same. You will have to let go.

Until you do, you’re not creating art. You’re just screwing around.

Remember: The fear of something is always scarier than the thing itself. Yes, there is pain and rejection. But the greatest failure is never to risk it all.”

It took me eight years to finally realize that being miserable at a job is not worth it, even if it paid the bills. I risked everything, including the respect and acceptance of those I care about, just to prove that I could do it.

Despite its ups and downs, it’s been a great journey so far. I have never been happier in my life.

Jeff Goins is right. If you are a writer, say that you are and start acting like one.

By the way, I wrote this post because I really enjoyed You Are a Writer. I was not asked to promote it; Jeff Goins doesn’t even know who the hell I am.


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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