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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

What constitutes a writer? I pose that question to not only myself but to anyone else who grapples with the art of writing. Do you become a writer after your first publication? Do you become a writer when you get a degree? Do you become a writer just by giving yourself the title? And how will you know that you are a writer? 

These questions linger in my mind, creating doubts about my ability and skill level. And now, three years into my English degree, I still feel as though I haven’t “earned” the title of writer. Even though that is a sinking fear, I also believe that being able to call yourself a writer is a mindset that you can adopt (I know, kind of contradictory. But, I’m trying to change my mindset). Anyone can be a writer, as long as you are writing and even reading I would argue. 

But then that begs the question, if you can be a writer, how do you go about writing? Well, the book that helped me to gain some confidence in my writing itself and understand the title of writer, was Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee. It was a book I read in high school, and a book I continue to read when I need inspiration, motivation, or confidence. McPhee discusses not only, as the title implies, the writing process but how to get comfortable with being a writer. McPhee’s book guided me in the direction of identifying a large part of my writing process and how to approach and view writing as the sum of its parts which has led me to become a more well-rounded writer. 

The two large takeaways that have stuck with me from this book and are now driving forces in my own writing process are: that writing is revision and that writing is selection. When I view writing from these two lenses I feel so much pressure taken off, especially any unrealistically high expectations that my first draft has to be the one, in terms of perfection. Again, McPhee alludes to the fact that writing is revision in his title, and within the book, he states he does four drafts for his writing. That is something that I strive for, maybe not exactly four, but anywhere from three revisions or more. I’ll usually write the first draft, give myself a break and then the next day I’ll go back and change certain things. Like maybe one day I want to revise my piece for clarity and the next for flow so that I am steadily working up to that final revision stage. Then, of course, writing is selection, you get to select which sentences or words or themes make it into a final piece of writing. And this lesson really helps me when writing poetry, because it can take me anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 days mulling over the perfect line to add, so being able to write down whatever thought and combine it with any other lines as I see fit really aids in putting my best work forward. 

I believe that a piece of writing is never fully complete, even if you put the piece aside or publish it. You can always revisit it and change it. Improve it from the last time you looked at it because you are bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to it.

Ashley Geiser is the Editor-In-Chief/Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Pace. She oversees all the writers on the team, manages the overall responsibilities and duties of the editors, and publishes the final copy of all articles on the website. She likes to work one-on-one with the writers, helping them gain confidence in their work and hosting monthly editorial workshops to get everyone familiar with Her Campus guidelines and AP style. Beyond her work with Her Campus at Pace, she works as a tutor at the Writing Center for Pace University and serves as an editor for the University’s student magazine, 'Aphros.' Some of her poetry has appeared in Pace University’s 'Chroma' magazine and placed in the English Department Writing Awards. She is currently a senior studying for her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing, as well as working towards her master’s degree in Publishing at Pace University. Outside of her academic responsibilities, Ashley usually spends her time reading and writing all forms of poetry. She loves any type of romantic comedy movies, among her favorites are 'Made of Honor' and 'The Wedding Date.' She also enjoys baking; her favorite recipe is a chocolate chip mint cookie of her own design.