And you call yourself a writer?

I never used to tell people that I was a writer. I know, I know. But here’s the thing. Once you tell people you’re a writer, you get the inevitable questions.

Person #1: “How’s the book coming?”

Me: “Still working on it.”

Person #1: “Oh.” (raises his/her eyebrows and walks away)

Person #2: “What have you published?”

Me: “Nothing yet.”

Person #2: “But you’ve been doing this for a year.”

Me: “Yup.” (more like thirty years)

Person #2: “Um – so, what else do you do?”

Me: (no point in continuing that conversation)

People don’t know what to say when you tell them you’re a writer. After all, it’s not like a real job where you get paid for working – a job that people can relate to, like a bank teller or a teacher or a Walmart greeter. When you say you’re a writer, they pause for a moment before they mumble some polite response that gives away their total ignorance of what it is you do.

I took an online writing course a number of years ago and connected with an instructor (whom I’ve never met, and can’t even remember her name) who set me straight on a few things. She encouraged me to start telling people I was a writer, even though I’d never published a single thing. She said I would sell myself short if I didn’t call myself a writer and start acting like one. She was right. From then on, despite the fact that I was in the middle of a very successful, non-writing-related career, I called myself a writer.

Now I write, I love what I do, and I make no excuses for it.




Filed under Writing

8 responses to “And you call yourself a writer?

  1. Chris Jordan

    I am writer, hear me roar! 🙂 Thanks for another great post, Wendy…

  2. I just finished a writing-related shindig last week in Lincoln, NE. Before we start, we have to introduce our selves and include the phrase, “I’m a writer.” I teach and think it’s so important that people see themselves as communicators and people who recognized that their very thoughts chronicled and recorded are valuable. Keep it up.

  3. I learned the same lesson years ago, though it was in an acting class. I enjoyed acting and wanted to be an actor, but was not comfortable calling myself one until I’d been cast in a part. One of the girls turned to me and said, “If you are uncomfortable calling yourself an actor, you wont be an actor. No one wants to cast someone who’d like to be an actor, they want someone who is an actor. Most actors are out of work anyway.” I’m not so big on the acting thing anymore, but the message stayed the same. I’ve been writing for years, and though I don’t have a book finished, I am a writer. Great to see other writers declaring themselves! Loved the post 🙂

  4. TheOthers1

    Good advice. I guess because I’m not published and everything I wrote is a “rough draft” I don’t see myself as a writer. I actually call myself a pretend writer because I don’t feel I’m good enough at it to claim the title even though I write a lot. Maybe I need to change my attitude about it. Typically when asked what I do I say I’m a nurse and a professor because I get paid to do those things. Perhaps I should add title of writer since it’s more than a hobby at this point. Something to think about.

  5. Aly Hughes

    I don’t think I’m even at the stage to call myself a writer yet! Mostly because I know that I’m not putting in as much as effort as I COULD be. But, I think I’m getting there. I’m definitely trying, and to me, that makes all the difference!

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