Recently I had an interesting conversation with a writer. She told me she has anxiety whenever someone asks her profession. She hadn’t yet proclaimed herself as a writer, even though she’s published.
I had to give that some thought.
When I wrote my first book, I too was a little hesitant. But honestly, it wasn’t for the same reasons as the writer I was speaking to. My reasons were simple. Since becoming a writer I’d also become an entrepreneur, so I felt like the title “writer” didn’t fully encompass all that I’d become.
Writer seemed to clean it up so nice. When in reality I wore so many hats. So when someone asks me now, I just say, “I’m a writer and I also own a book consulting company.”
Her reasons were slightly different though. She felt anxious by proclaiming that she’d become a writer. It made her realize that she’d fulfilled her goal. She’d done it! All the hard work and sweat had paid off and now she was finally able to call herself a writer. It scared her. But why the fear?
She questioned whether she was good enough. And she admitted that she was a tad bit afraid of success. Proclaiming the title of writer made it all too real for her and she wasn’t yet ready to accept it.
She’s not the only one. I’ve noticed this with other writers as well. Many of my Twitter friends’ profile says aspiring writer, aspiring novelist, or something in between. I realize that many of these writers are writing in their spare time, while working a full time job that may be totally unrelated, just as I had. But I’ve considered myself a writer since I was a very little girl. Being published for the first time actually validated my writing experience.
So why aren’t you shouting from the roof top that you’re a writer?
I saw a blog post once that firmly declared, “Writing makes you a writer.”
So at what point do you call yourself a writer? Is it once you’re published? What about once you’ve written the first word? Does that qualify you as a writer? Have you had anxiety declaring yourself as a writer? Please share your opinion in the comment section below.
This really hits home. Everyday when I write down my affirmation for the day, one of them is "I am a writer." It's as if I have to convince myself. I suppose it's like you said, there's some pressure associated with claiming it. I'm not writing for a living yet, atleast not from a monetary perspective – but I AM writing for a living from a spiritual and emotional perspective. If I didn't rediscover writing, I wouldn't be living such an abundant and happy life right now. So, just as I identify myself as a mother, lover, hugger, healer; I'm a writer. I think the more I own that, the more I will increase my magnetism and courage.
Yes, fulfillment. So well said…
I've struggled with this idea myself. I think writing makes you a writer but publishing and actively seeking an audience makes you an author…
Agreed. I think that's the PERFECT way to sum it up! Thanks Omar!
I had to research John Irving after an interview where the guy called me a writing wrestler in the same paragraph with John Irving, Ken Kesey, and Terry Davis. With no sound advice on how to enhance the exposure I went ahead an wrote a blog series on MMA, or Mixed Martial Authors, where the writing wrestlers face the likes of Hemingway, Melville, Poe, and Tom Wolfe (a natural match since he and Irving have had a feud.)
A writer shapes the material they choose to work with. In this case I let the experts beat it into shape.
I think it's when you can earn a living as such.
Thanks for chiming in!
the first time I said I was a writer was on those silly forms they make you fill out while flying. I couldn't bear to write down housewife and I was no longer a teacher. It made me smile.
I now call myself an educator, and will do so until I start selling a novel or articles.
Meanwhile, I am asked to sign my name to the new series of children's books I just wrote and I am petrified that someone will catch me out. See that it's a title that I just claimed….
Debbie, I think its the same for a lot of people, including the person I was having this conversation with. Claim it and its yours!
This is a hard question for me to answer considering I am a poet just exploring your site. But I have a hard time declaring myself a poet, because I make no living off of it, and I am just a 15 year old guy. Never the less I call myself a poet, and I call myself that because it has taken over my life. If it makes sense at all everything comes out in my poems. It is how I express my emotions and how I deal with problems. This is how I think writing anything from books to articles must feel like. That is when I would call myself a writer, even if I don't make a dime off of it, because I firmly believe in what someone told me once "Writing brings self benefit and if you don't seek that benefit. Then you will fail."
Sometimes I still hesitate saying "I'm a writer" because I feel like people are going to follow-up by asking me about all the publishing credits that I don't have yet. Lol. But, I always think of the scene in Sister Act 2, when Whoopi Goldberg quoted Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to A Young Poet:
"Don't ask me about being a writer. If when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing, then you're a writer." I try to remember that!
You know I think that just about sums up most people's fear!Sent from my iPod