When did you know you were a writer and do you call yourself one?

We’ve probably all got a story to tell about how we came to the world of writing.  Many of us have been writing and telling stories in some way or another our whole lives but never thought of ourselves as writers-“officially”.  I know I came to the game late as far as calling myself a writer and making it a priority in my life…

What about you? What’s your story?

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7 responses to “When did you know you were a writer and do you call yourself one?

  1. Ooh, what a good question!

    I’ve never called myself a writer, though I suppose for the moment at least, I’m more that than anything else (I’ve taken unpaid leave from my job for a few months to concentrate on writing).

    I do remember going away for a few days on my own last year to try and make some progress on the word count for my novel without distractions. I went to Lundy – which for people who don’t know it, is a very pretty little island in the Bristol Channel – and got talking to a few people on the boat who’d obviously spotted I was on my tod and thought they’d take pity on me. Of course, they asked why I was going and when I told them I was working on my first novel, one of them subsequently introduced me to his wife as a “writer”. It felt fantastic, but also fraudulent – I found myself saying, “Oh no, I’m not a real writer!” etc etc.

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to get over that until I’ve actually got something honest-to-goodness published; but then again, perhaps calling myself a “writer” would help convince myself that this really is a serious option, helping keep me focussed and resilient?

    This is something I’ll be thinking about further – thank you again!

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    • I never called myself a writer either, although I was actually writing as part of my career in Television for years. I just didn’t consider it legit because it was for advertising and marketing.
      It wasn’t until I did my program at Stanford and was working with people-who-like me, were struggling with the same issue that I started coming to terms with it and allowing myself to consider actually calling myself one. Sometimes it just sounds so cliche to say, “Oh, I’m a writer and I’m working on a novel,” because the responses can range from eye rolling–as if I’m just another pathetic wannabe who’s a fraud and since I’m not officially published-how can I consider myself for real to that moment of revalation-like yours when someone bestows the monicker of “writer” on you and it actually feels and sounds like it’s true. It was a shocker for me when it happened the first time and took a while to sink in…but why should it? Just because you aren’t published (yet)- doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer. If we’re writing-we’re writers. I think we all need to allow ourselves to embrace the title. And I’m saying that to convince myself as well as you and anyone else reading this.
      I’ve been practicing using the term to see how it feels and find out what reactions it causes and incredibly, so many more people are generous about accepting it at face value than I ever would have imagined. And that buoys me up…so maybe calling yourself a writer does convince each of us on some level that we are…or at least we’re entitled to allow ourselves to think we deserve to be called a writer—focused and resilient as you so aptly put it. When I’ve said I’m a writer (which I do sheepishly), no one has ever looked at me and said anything negative. ( I’m the one doing that in my head! ) In fact, most people are very curious and generous about it. I think they want you to succeed. It’s probably a vicarious thrill for them to meet someone who’s willing to at least give it a try…young or old or in-between. So many people never even give their dreams a chance-so go ahead and call yourself a writer, even though it feels funny. I think it’s important and we can all practice together!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this. I really think it’s an interesting question for each of us to ponder…Robin

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  2. Pingback: “When Did You Know You Were A Writer…” from The Restless Raconteur | somedayi·

  3. I have yet to call myself a writer. I happily admit I am writing a book, but the term “writer” feels like a pedestal I’m not ready to stand on. I was at a party with my friend and she introduced me as a writer. I’m not going to lie, it was probably the happiest moment of that day. Or week, actually.

    When I finish my first draft, I’ll call myself a writer. I think it will be my reward, my little pat on the back.

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    • Mariah,
      So glad you had that happy moment! Here’s to more moments like that-I’m sure they’re coming!
      sounds like you’re already a writer to me 🙂
      Robin

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  4. Oh, I’m a writer. Have been so since elementary school, as reported by my grades. The idea of being “good enough” to write my own stories, nevermind a novel, was an alien thought, however. Now that benchmark has been reached. My one concern is when can I finally call myself an author. My personal scoreboard said I must be published (still snubbing self-publication), but I’m considering if the existence of a complete first draft of my novel gives me authorial credit. Probably not.

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    • I think the existence of a complete first draft of your novel definitely gives you authorial credit! I love that you make the distinction between being a writer and an author. I’m going to put that out there for people to discuss as well as self-publishing versus the traditional publishing route. Thanks for responding. Great food for thought.

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