Exactly a year ago I wrote a post Why I Don’t Write.

Today I’ve finished a novel that is in it’s fifth rewrite and which I am preparing to send out to agents. So what’s changed? That’s as much a mystery to me as why I wasn’t writing was a year ago. But I’m going to try to pinpoint some key changes that seemed to have made a difference.

First, I decided I wanted to be published. I’m a story teller. I don’t write for myself, never have. Before deciding to make being published my goal, my writing was simply too much of an abstract exercise. This simple shift in focus helped me go from having written the first forty pages of my novel in the beginning of August last year to a finished first draft of three hundred thirty odd pages by the middle of December. I’d been writing those first forty pages for over fifteen years.

Second, I told people I was writing a novel. I went to conferences and participated as someone with a work in progress, not someone considering writing. I had my first ten pages critiqued by an agent and by fellow writers.

Third, I joined a writer’s group. I’m lucky because there’s a fantastic writer’s group here in Miami, the Friday Night Writers, where thirty or more local writers of a wide range of works — novels, memoirs, poetry, short stories — gave me invaluable feedback on what was working and what wasn’t.

Fourth, I began looking at my writing as a business, not just an artistic endeavor. That included the less “creative” aspects such as what it would take to be published, how to get an agent, what I would need to do now and later to get my book into the hands of readers. In this endeavor I’ve been enormously helped by tapping into the resources of The Writers Digest. Most recently I attended their conference in New York City where I not only participated in a Pitch Slam (words cannot describe the terror) and a series of presentations on all the ways a writer can find an agent, be published and become their own best advocate.

Finally, and perhaps most critically, I now consider myself a writer. Not “someone who writes,” not “I’m trying to write,” and NOT “I hope to become a writer someday.” Difficult as it is for me to say out loud (that inner voice keeps crying “fraud, fraud, fraud”), now I’m a writer and I’m doing what writer’s do. I write.