When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?

When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?
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When can you call yourself a writer?

This is an important question in every writer’s life. At what moment in time can you actually refer to yourself as a writer?

But even the very question itself is deceiving, because there are actually two questions here:

When can you look in the mirror and call yourself a writer? And when can you call yourself a writer in front of several complete strangers at a party?

When can you call yourself a writer in private?

Now. Absolutely right now.

Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.

Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. I remember reading somewhere that Robert De Niro will sometimes repeat his lines dozens of times before filming a scene, in an effort to make himself fully believe what he’s saying. That’s your goal: say it, then say it again until you believe it.

When you finally call yourself a writer, it drives home the fact that this is real. It’s serious. We’re no longer talking about some vague ambition. You’re a professional writer who has to produce content, be that novels or nonfiction books or articles or whatever.

Go ahead and say it right now: “I am a writer.” The more it becomes real for you, the more it will drive you to sit down as much as possible and put words on the page.

call yourself a writer

When can you call yourself a writer in public?

The answer to this question is also now — but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. If you start telling people that you’re in the middle of a novel, then you darn well better be in the middle of a novel.

But here’s the rub: there are two things that happen when you’re in public and first start referring to yourself as a writer.

The first thing is your friends and spouse may have an irksome tendency to snicker or roll their eyes. The truth is that one cannot become a doctor or welder simply because they say they are. Such professions take degrees and certifications.

But writers don’t need degrees or training, so it may seem like a “cheat” or “exaggeration” to others that you’re suddenly calling yourself something as prestigious as “writer.” So you don’t want to call yourself a writer in public until you’re fully ready to shrug off any silly passive-aggressive nonsense from college buddies.

Quick note from Chuck: I am now taking on clients as a freelance editor. If your query or synopsis or manuscript needs a look from a professional, please consider my editing services. Thanks!

The second thing you must be prepared for is the question that will boomerang back to you 10 times out of 10: “Oh, really — what do you write?”

I don’t care if you are at a book party in Manhattan or a hole-in-the-wall bar in the Yukon. When you say you are a writer, someone will always — always — ask, “What do you write?” and then when you answer with a general response, they will follow that up with, “Anything I might have read?”

Obviously, at the beginning of your career, with no real credits to speak of, you won’t have much to say when people start asking for details. This can cause embarrassing moments of silence, or rambling explanations that reek of self-doubt. So don’t refer to yourself as a writer in public until you have a plan to deal with follow-up questions.

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember when answering such questions is to respond quickly and concisely. Even if your credits are insignificant, if you answer with clarity and speed, it conveys confidence and that you have a plan you don’t need to explain to the world.  Try this conversation:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, cool. What do you write?”

“I’m just starting out. But to answer your question: articles, mostly. Working on a sci-fi novel when I can.”

“Articles — great. Anything I might have read?”

“Not yet, but I’m working on it. I’m really enjoying myself so far.”

True, such answers aren’t impressive, but they’re confident. The writer is in control. It comes off poorly when, upon being asked what they write, a writer stammers incoherently, then answers the question by basically saying, “I’m not really sure yet, and to tell you the truth, I may just have no clue altogether! Hahaha!”

So if you don’t feel like you can confidently answer the question, or are embarrassed to say aloud that you haven’t been published, think twice before mentioning your writerly aspirations at a soiree.

But don’t forget that the sooner you start calling yourself a writer in private and in public, and the sooner you create a website and business cards, the sooner you will realize your career choice is a serious endeavor and demands your time and attention.

And that is what will drive you to sit down, put in the hard work and create.

Don’t forget to comment to be in the running for Chuck’s book giveaway! You could win a free copy of his latest book, Create Your Writer Platform. (Update: Teresa Bruce won!)

Other TWL Guest Posts by Chuck Sambuchino:

  1. The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

  2. Without This, You’ll Never Succeed as a Writer

  3. Querying Literary Agents: Your Top 9 Questions Answered

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Chuck Sambuchino is a staffer at Writer’s Digest Books, best-selling humor book author, and freelance query/synopsis editor. He is the editor of the Guide to Literary Agents and the au... .

Writer's Digest | @chucksambuchino

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Comments

  1. I took the steps to create a social presence as a writers to build accountability. Between sharing a Facebook page, WordPress blog and Twitter account with friends and family, now that those around me have started asking me how my writing is going and I feel obligated to have a honest answer.

    • It’s good to read your comments Mike about building a social presence as a writer via twitter or facebook. I was debating whether to call myself a writer on twitter, still am, sent four queries regarding my first YA novel which were rejected but not without some encouraging comments.
      Am currently working on my second novel which is a ghost story and one which I feel more confident about. Although I currently have a ‘day job,’ after reading your post it makes me feel a sense of verification in calling myself a writer.

  2. Great article, Chuck! Taking ownership of saying you’re a writer has a profound effect. It really helped me and it’s something I tell the writers in my writing group. If you don’t believe you’re a writer, no one else will either.

    • Well,put. I’ve been writing for years. Seriously more now. I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating. I live in my pages and breathe the ink. I need to express myself and it renews my spirit. Keep up the good work and thank you for the encouragement. We think what we become.

  3. Sue LeBreton says:

    Great advice. I sometimes run and breathe to “I am a writer” so it sinks in. The tips for what to say when your clips are minimal or non existent are helpful. The first few times I was asked it felt awkward but each time I responded my confidence grew.

  4. jerri iverson says:

    I’ve been calling myself a writer since my first article was published in a newspaper. Granted that was in a school newspaper back in high school – but the great part about the story – it wasn’t changed from what I submitted. Since then I’ve worked on other papers, submitted to magazines, and have been participating in a writing challenge every November. I do call myself a writer.

  5. Absolutely! Now.

    I work with people helping them develop their writing, and the NUMBER ONE obstacle is they don’t believe they’re writers. It’s so much easier to give up when even you don’t believe in what you’re doing.

    The only thing you have to do to call yourself a writer is write. Simple.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Leigh. I started thinking of myself as a writer and calling myself one when I began taking my writing seriously and writing every day. I think it’s a combination of self-belief and action – it’s no good believing you’re a writer if you’re not actually walking the walk. As you say – you have to write. If you’re doing that, whether you’ve got a book published or not, I reckon you’ve every right to say you’re a writer.

  6. You are touching on one of the most important issues when saying I am a writer – confidence. It is the same thing needed to promote yourself, your work, and establish social media. I am a writer, even had a story published in an anthology. As I work on my memoir (second draft), I am beginning to shake in my boots thinking about the future of sending out a query and approaching agents. Granted I have to finish this revision and another one or two before that happens, but I lack confidence in selling myself.

  7. Chuck makes an excellent point about responding with confidence when others approach you about your work. If you laugh off your own attempts at being a writer, who else is going to take you seriously?

    Never apologize for being a writer. There is sometimes this stigma attached that you have to be have a book with your name on the shelf or have credits in these national publications in order to merit the title ‘writer’. You don’t. If you write articles, you’re an article writer. If you write book reviews, you’re a book reviewer/writer. If you write poems… you get the idea.

    You can’t control who everything about the publication process but one thing you can control is how you view yourself as an artist, as a creator, and making the time to do the work of writing itself, to constantly improve your craft. As Steven Pressfield says, “Do the work”.

    • I love this, “Never apologize for being a writer.”

      • Well, I better say I’m a writer! I dedicate several hours each day to this endeavor either by doing research, editing, re-writing, or honing my craft with workshops, and writing groups. When I eventually read out loud to other than my mirror I know I’m a writer. Handing out business cards gives me a high.

  8. Calling oneself a writer is a difficult decision. There’s an even more difficult question to consider. When does a writer become an author?

    • Darlene Marcucci-Miller says:

      one helpful thing I read is that most writers write because they MUST…it is an inborn sense of needing to express themselves, record what they see and feel, and to create with words. It is like an artist who picks up a pen to make a sketch…when is he/she an artist…?? Right then. With their first creation. As are we…writers, that is. Becoming a published writer is a thrill but it does not make you more of a writer. It just acknowledges you in a commercial way and is the frosting on the cake. One telling thing is that a person hearing that writers don’t make what they used to and that it is “iffy” to be able to make a living as a writer can have two responses one being to stop writing because it is not worth it and the other is to write anyway. The latter is a writer!

      • JudiLeigh says:

        Great article…I teach a Creative Writing Class at a 55+ Community. I am regularly reminding the class that they are writers…and they are! I will be sharing this article with the class next week…

        Darlene, do you mind if I share your post with my classes? Certainly, I will credit you with the message…but you articulated so clearly the difference between being a published writer and not yet being published. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful, intelligent post!

  9. Great post. I’ve written as a journalist and then in communications/marketing roles for nonprofits for 20-plus years — so I’ve always called myself a writer/editor. Yet, just started writing fiction four years ago. For me, it’s not a question of calling myself a writer, but calling myself an author (as Joel Heffner pointed out). Does the act of writing novels make one an author? Or does formal publication? I think the former.

  10. Great advice! Keeps us accountable.

  11. I am a writer when I have the time to pen my thoughts uninterrupted.

  12. Great post! I’m still in high school, and a good way from being ready to publish anything, but I absolutely consider myself to be a writer. Then, as Mandy and Joel said, there’s the question of what makes an author. I don’t consider myself to be a novelist yet, because I’m still working on my first novel, but I’m committed to writing and to improving my work, and I love it, so that makes me a writer. Your point about confidence is really good. It’s strange how people seem to think that being a “writer” means having written a book they can find in a bookstore or on Amazon, or having at least written a bunch of articles that everyone’s read, but it’s really so much deeper than that.

  13. When can you call yourself a writer? When it hurts not to.

  14. That’s a pretty neat trick – applying pressure to yourself, but I have found that this works better if you do the exact opposite. I call myself a “word enthuziast” and I get more done with less pressure.
    Great post!

  15. The answer is…. When you have written.

  16. Right on, Chuck! Thanks for helping us to carry on!

  17. I love it! Thanks for a great article. 😀

  18. Thank you Chuck. I can’t help but be a writer. Having said that, when I settle into the seat of my soul, I don’t write. I take dictation from the Divine universal spirit. I’m often blown away by what comes to me in my moments of inspiration.
    http://secretus.org/

  19. I once told my mother I was a writer, and, at the time, I wondered at her lack of response. Two days later, I received a package containing a beautifully designed and embellished tinfoil hat. It was a thing of beauty.

  20. I’ve been a work-for-hire freelance writer for years, and called myself that. But I’ve only “come out” about writing kidlit fiction, to anyone other than family and writing buddies, since signing with an agent a few months ago. (Which, by the way, happened shortly after I established something of an online presence.)

  21. You’re spot on about the feelings a writer has about actually saying to himself or to others in public that he is a writer. I recently had an article published in a national magazine, but still I find it hard to say, “I am a writer.” I’ve had many rejection notices too, so I get discouraged. Fortunately, I have a lot of support from family and friends, which is a big motivater for me to continue with my writing. Thank you for your posts. They’re very insightful and encouraging. “I am a writer!”

  22. I’ve been writing for many years as a marketing communications pro, but I never used that term until I began expanding into creative writing. Then, all of a sudden, it felt like I was an impostor when I did say it.

    I finally became comfortable with it when I progressed far enough in my creative writing to be able to evaluate my drafts in a way that truly moved them forward.

  23. I am a writer and poet because I think about writing all the time and I have published web content and poems in magazines. It is who I am and what I do, and without it I am denying who I am. When I tell people I am a writer, I still receive skeptical looks or dumb silence, but I don’t care. Writing makes me whole and where I excel, even though, financially, I haven’t gained much. I believe that part will be filled in sooner than later.

  24. Thank you Chuck. Reading this article came at a really good time for me. I have referred to myself as a writer, and I have seen the eye rolls and complacient, knowing nods of recognition from friends and family. As of late I’ve even been researching the best way to go about creating a platform for myself. But more specifically, this article was important to me because it makes me feel reassured. It says to me, “I’m actually not the only one who has doubts about this since I haven’t been published yet.”

  25. This was just what I was needing to hear. I have finally decided to start being more open about the fact that I am working on some writing projects with the goal of publishing eventually. Recently, my husband and I have been talking about this– and quite frankly, my confidence isn’t there, but an opportunity came when talking to some friends, and I decided to divulge the secret… “I am a writer.” There were some questions with me fumbling about how best to answer. But, for the first time, it is out there to someone I personally know, and it felt good. Though I wish I could have read this article beforehand….

  26. This is such a timely post for me. I just changed my URL to gretaboris.com from fitness inside out. I was a personal trainer and weight management consultant for years, then wrote a book about it. That did me in. I couldn’t say, “one more bicep curl – you’re doing great!” one more time. I was bit with the writing bug.

    Since the book, I’ve written for several websites, acted as editor for an online magazine, done some freelance writing, am on my millionth revision of a thriller novel and am three stories into a novella series but have had a hard time calling myself a writer.

    Last week, I just decided to come out of the closet! Hence the re-branding. I am a writer.

  27. I am a writer, editor, teacher and blogger and would love to win a free copy of your book. Perhaps, if I don’t win, I can interview you on my blog in exchange for a copy. I’ve done this several times with other authors.

    Oh, I’m an author, too, of the ebook “20 Blog Post Must-Haves”.

    How’s that for confidence? 🙂

  28. Now I know how to respond to the question I’ve always struggled with. I am proud to be a writer. I love what I do. How many people can say that about their work? No, I’m not a million dollar author–yet. But some day I’ll be in full print. Your articles are almost always helpful. Thank you for your insight.

  29. Great advice! Thank you

  30. Anita Banks says:

    I am a writer. Thank you for the post.

  31. Speaking with confidence is the best laid foundation. I have written commentaries, newspaper articles, etc. on and off for years. Have I written a book? No. Do I consider myself a writer? Yes. Do others consider me a writer? I do not care!!

  32. Khristina says:

    Thank you for this timely article! I’m a starving artist, and enjoyed this great writer’s twist on Rene Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum. 🙂

  33. If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not.
    If you’ve tried, REALLY tried, NOT to write but you couldn’t, and you KNOW in your bones, in your SOUL, that you MUST write, you’re a writer.

    As to what to say when someone asks what you write, I’ll relate some good advice given by Lee Roddy in a writing seminar I took eons ago. (Lee invented Grizzly Adams, by the way.) Lee said, “When someone asks you what you write, you say, ‘What are you buying?’ And then shut up.”

  34. What a wonderful article. I’ve had people telling me that I’m a writer for years, but it was only within the last year that I’ve allowed myself to think of myself in those terms. It was always my hobby instead of something that I do. For as far back as I can remember, I have been a writer, but it doesn’t seem real until you are willing to own it and back it up.

  35. I am an in the closet writer. I think I have managed to hide that part of me so well that I have forgotten about it. I have forgotten my goal to write every single day. I have forgotten how to write a poem with meaning. I have forgotten how to write. So. Today. I am coming out of the closet before I forget I was even in there. I am a writer.

    • Woohoo Katie! I applaud you. No more closets!

      Just a couple of words of advice. When I get stuck I write ANYTHING for ten minutes by timer. If it’s absolute rubbish it doesn’t matter. Remember that writing is like anything else, you need to flex the muscles regularly and allow yourself time to develop them again when you stop.
      SO. Don’t be down on yourself and worry about the first week or two of your NEW writing career. Give yourself permission to take the time to develop the habit. And write every day… even it somedays it’s just, “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over… if you do it long enough, you’ll probably get bored writing it and branch off into something else.
      Good luck! I’ll tell my friends I met another writer today… called Katie.
      C

  36. Based on the dialogue in your post, my conversations are on track. I’m currently revising what I hope will be my first published novel. Every morning from now on, I will start repeating in the mirror, “I am a writer.”

  37. Alisha Rohde says:

    Great post–I particularly liked the bit about handling follow-up questions! It took me a long time to feel comfortable identifying myself as a writer publicly–inside I always knew I was, but in the last year or two I’ve gotten much more up front and open. Handling the follow-up questions has been a bit trickier, especially when people don’t understand the pace of writing and publishing (and don’t want the gory details). Now when non-writers/friends/family ask “how’s the writing going?” I just smile and say “it’s going well, thanks for asking!” 😉

  38. I started calling myself a writer the day I decided to be one. When I’m asked what I write, my response has not changed. I write whatever an editor will buy. The only place I really care about seeing my name in print is on on the “Pay to the Order Of” line on the check from the publisher.

  39. Rose Doucet says:

    Thanks for the the affirmation! I recently started my freelance writing business and took the advice to have business cards printed. My first 2 queries have been accepted, but I determined to call myself a freelance writer before this happened. 🙂

  40. I am a writer. The problem is I don’t let others read what I write.

  41. I am a writer! I love when people ask me what I do. What better way to plug your book?

  42. I agree with both sets of advice. Personally, I don’t think I feel comfortable enough to call myself a writer in public until I have one or more things published that I can refer interested parties to. It is important that people take me seriously concerning my career. I’m in the beginning stages of setting up my writer’s platform. I may feel a little better once that is up and running. Maybe then I will find the courage to tell others in public. Maybe… =)

  43. Kenneth Peters says:

    I have mixed feelings toward this because based on the article, all people can call themselves writers. I say, let’s raise the bar, and call ourselves writers once our work has been validated by enough people showing interest in it. This, of course, is jmo.

    • What would be considered adequate validation, though?

    • Read Julia Cameron’s two books, The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write, and you will definitely change your mind. We are all writers and as I conclude my poem “Selected Memories Are Revealing” you may see that everyone can be and is a writer and especially of their memoirs:
      With joy of the memories and the lessons learned,
      My duty to record before life is adjourned.
      Regardless of writing skills or style,
      The end product makes it all worthwhile.

  44. If only weight loss worked so well. “I weigh 130 lbs! I weigh 130 lbs!”

    But seriously, you won’t really take your writing seriously until you believe that you are a writer. Until then, it’s only a hobby.

  45. I’m kind of the same way with calling my stuff a “book.” Like, I wrote for NaNoWriMo and won this year (so happy about that =D), but I still dont call it a “book.” I just say its a story. I feel like if I call it a book, then people will expect to read it and see it published, but I’m not sure if I could do that. My confidence in my writing flees as soon as someone else asks about it in person.

    Now, if random people on the internet ask to read it and if I like what I have and it’s edited, then I love to talk about it xD

    • Shelby,

      That’s probably smart. It takes a practiced eye to read and comment on a piece of writing in progress like your NaNoWriMo book. Few family and friends have that ability no matter how good their intentions.

      I work with people helping them write books, and I see how scary it is for my clients to share their writing with me, but I’m an experienced reader. I know how to look beyond what is currently on the page and see the shape of a finished piece. Someone without that level of experience can keep a writer from ever wanting to write again.

  46. I used to say that I was a legal secretary moonlighting as a writer. Now I say that I’m writer moonlighting as a legal secretary.

  47. Carisa Peterson says:

    I became a writer when I knew that I’m not supposed to be an assistant or a receptionist. And when I received my first paycheck (albeit a very small paycheck) for writing.

  48. After reading this article, all I can say is that “I am a writer!” Thank you Chuck 🙂

  49. I’m a writer — thanks for the inspiration!

    I do hope I land the “Creating Your Writing Platform.” I’m trying to decide when and if I need to start platforming.

  50. I hope (and pray) to be a published writer one day. I want to be able to walk into Barnes and Noble (R.I.P. Borders Bookstore) and pick up a copy of my book with my own two hands.
    Millions of others picking up my book wouldn’t be too shabby either.

  51. I agree wholeheartedly with your advice for anyone who is writing to tell the world – shout it from the mountaintops – “I am a writer” in conjunction with reminding oneself what it is you ARE! I AM A WRITER!! Thank you for a fun and excellent column. Now I must wonder how much experience you have as a freelance editor and if none then this too is a case of telling the world what you ARE. You are a freelance editor (big smiles). I couldn’t resist my comment only because of the article content where you advertise your expertise. Please do not take me too seriously because I AM A WRITER and I love to play with words and their context. Have a WRITE-tious life!

  52. Amy Nicholson says:

    That was scary. Although I have had a few articles published, I’ve never said, “I am a w—–” out loud. It seems presumptuous. But I write. And if writers write and I write, then I must be a wr…

  53. Kati Neal Verburg says:

    Holy NEEDED, Batman! I’ve struggled with this for years- in spite of my published works. Too often I commiserate aloud- to both myself and others, about my lack of published material in the last several years, shunning the title due to my inability to make it work. I have realized, however, that I also struggled with calling myself a Writer when I actually was writing, never owning it as more than a mere hobby because I was unable to sustain a living with my craft. Today, I’ve started blogging again, and am working diligently to change the way I see myself. I’m ever aware that it all begins with ME. Thanks so much! 🙂

  54. My blog, btw. 🙂

  55. Vicky Chan says:

    Thanks so much for the great advice! It’s difficult to develop confidence when you haven’t published anything yet. I guess it’s important to keep one’s head up and keep on trying, hoping for the big break. I will be optimistic and declare myself a writer!

  56. Gina Dinverno says:

    I called myself a writer when a children’s magazine published content from an article I had written, but I will call myself an author when a complete article of mine is published.

  57. Even after I was published I had difficulty saying the words “I am a writer” as if I didn’t believe it myself. Funny thing that! Another few stories later, and the words are now easy to say – and yes, I love telling people, “I am a writer!”

    Thanks for the article, Chuck 🙂

  58. Good advice. Different people will have different triggers for the confidence to call themselves writers and more power to them when it happens.

  59. Thanks Chuck,
    I am a writer. I am just getting started and, as of yet, i am unpublished in the traditional sense. I do post some of my academic work on my own blog because I find it makes me take my work serious.

    Thanks Again!

  60. Hi Chuck,
    Nice article. i first called myself a writer in public when a federal attorney asked my profession during jury selection. I was picked to serve for a weapons-trafficking trial. Fellow jurors asked me what I write and it was a great chance to practice being confident, no snarky college friends in that jury room.

  61. Terrance Mc Arthur says:

    I was waiting for a novel to be published before I called myself a writer, but I might as well leap into the pool. I AM A WRITER! There, what’s done is done.

  62. Great article! I started referring to myself as a write this year…along with business cards, a website, facebook, twitter, and goodreads pages. Also, I put my first book out on Kindle this week. it’s all very empowering!

  63. Because I have no formal training, and because I struggle with grammar (especially over commas and who/whom,) I have not called myself a writer. That my first book was published and won an award and great reviews, and though it just missed the Independent Publisher’s Ben Franklin Award due to design while the content and writing received high praise, and I write a monthly column in Baltimore’s Child Magazine, still does not convince me to align myself with Hemingway and company. So I say “I write.” Does that count?

  64. I knew I was a writer when I’d wake up three hours early each morning to write my first novel, but I didn’t want to tell anyone until I’d finished it.

    I knew I was a writer with each non-fiction article and imagined short story I submitted for publication, but I didn’t broadcast it to others until I got my first email that started with “Congratulations, your story has been selected …” Then I shouted, “I’M A WRITER!” (Of course, I only shouted it inside my house. When I’m out in public I speak it at a conversational volume, but in my heart and head it’s still a shout.)

  65. Wish I could be called a write at some point of life. I am at the best a ranter, if not a blogger.

    Inspirational post anyhow 🙂

  66. D.J. Maher Mielzynski says:

    Great, useful advice, looking the mirror and saying: “I am a writer. I am a writer” is the best way to get motivated in the morning. Now you’ve said it to your face. Go prove it. Write something. Anything for starters. Who know what that mirror man may have had in his head?

  67. Deb McAleer says:

    Love this article. I think every writer has a nagging voice in their head that they are not up to par, especially those who have yet to be published. Like any other art form, it is hard to be sure if you are any good. It would be great if there was some kind of exam that you could take on a Saturday afternoon, and if you passed they would say, “Congratulations you’re officially a writer!” Then you would walk out with a writer’s badge and get on with your writing.

  68. I always appreciate reading articles like this – ones that remind us that we need to be confident in ourselves and our chosen career! I have a hard time referring to myself as a writer in public, but I am getting better about it.. this post will help me keep working on it 🙂

  69. After 15 years in marketing, I reinvented myself as a writer—8 years ago. I’d always loved to write, and did a tremendous amount of writing in the course of my marketing work. I never dreamed I could earn money from writing. So did I call myself a writer off the bat? Nope. It took about 7 years.

    I’d stumbled into a job at a local ethnic newspaper. When people asked what type of work I did, I’d say, “I work for The Greek Star newspaper.” I never thought to call myself a writer. Don’t know why. It didn’t enter my consciousness.

    After the first couple of years, in which I was published weekly in the paper and in a quarterly magazine, I still wasn’t calling myself a writer. Fear? Who knows. I didn’t even say, “I write for The Greek Star and GreekCircle magazine.” I’d still keep saying, “I work for The Greek Star.”

    In 2005, I contributed to a book. I still didn’t call myself a writer.

    In 2009, I interviewed a woman who encouraged me to do more with my writing. Funny, I started to think, “maybe I can be a writer.” But wasn’t I already?

    Then I began contributing to another newspaper and an online publication. Shortly thereafter I started a parenting blog. Still, I didn’t call myself a writer.

    In 2012, I contributed to two more books, wrote the first draft of a book about molar pregnancy, and even started on a novel. Somewhere about the time I clicked “send” on the email with the second book contribution of the year, something clicked in my brain. I began to call myself “writer.” Now it just comes out naturally.

    I do find when people hear that I am a writer, the reaction is usually one of two things: “That’s awesome! I love to write, but never thought I could do anything with it” or “Wonderful! I wish I knew how to write!”

    Now, the gray area seems to be, when can you call yourself “author” and not just “writer”?

    We’re all writers, each and every day. We live it, we breathe it. It’s who we are. Say it loud and say it proud!

  70. Wish I would have had this article years ago. I believed in the positive thinking aspect of calling myself a writer and did so publicly, but I was a bit unprepared with how to respond to this biggie “Where can I find your books?” My answer was always, “Uh, you can’t.” And when they asked what I wrote, I’d say. “Uh, really dark stuff. Mysteries.”
    Now I wish I had the forethought to come up with a stock answer that came off a bit more confident, self-assured. But the fun thing was when I just signed my book deal I said, “Well, you’ve all been asking where you can buy my book and NOW I HAVE AN ANSWER.” lol.

  71. Lisa Bates says:

    When can you call yourself a writer? When you jump out of bed, in the middle of the night, shouting, “That’s it!” and your spouse sits up, half asleep and says, “Should I call 911?”

  72. Thank you Chuck,
    This is a very useful and inspiring piece of advice! There are days when I feel like I am trying to pursue a very distand and frivolous ambition floating somewhere in my left brain. I have started diarising my thoughts and this has pushed me into writing at least 100 words a day towards a novel.

    Now, a writing career is startig to feel real and achievable. Thank you!

  73. Allison Merrill says:

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful article, Chuck. I don’t always tell people I’m a writer, mainly because I struggle being one. This article really helps build my confidence. Thank you!

  74. Actually, the ‘prepare for the followup questions’ is an essential part of being a writer, as well. You must be prepared at any time to discuss your work in progress, past projects that are out looking for representation, as well as works that have been published.

    Do you have the pitch for your current work in progress memorized? And all the previous ones you are prepping for the market? You never know when you will be talking to a blogger, a journalist, an editor, an agent, or someone associated to a radio or TV show. All of these people can help you boost your career.

    When you can do the first two of the three whenever asked, then you can call yourself a writer.

  75. Facing criticism is never easy–from strangers or loved ones–which is why (I think) aspiring authors tend to hide their “hobby” writing.
    People, don’t. Be proud. Be bold. In your life and your writing.

    Even if you never publish a word in print, the act of writing is still an accomplishment. If I had a dollar for every person who responded “Oh, I think I’ve got a book in me, too” after hearing that I’m working on a novel (or three), I’d have my next mortgage payment covered.

    Here’s the thing: some folks are just clueless, or nasty, or ashamed in their own skin and have a need to tear down the accomplishments of others–no matter how minimal those accomplishments might be.

    When I get that “Oh, I could write a book” comment, I always invite the speaker to put some words on a page and send it to me to read. Because that actually causes that person to consider how hard it is to write well. And guess what? That is a validating experience, too.

  76. I was always more of a story-teller than a writer. While working as a camp counselor, I would tell my Duffy Dog stories to the campers who insisted that I should write a book. It took tweenty years before I finally self-published my children’s chapter book, DUFFY: THE ADVENTURES OF A SUPERDOG, but the experience has been great! Most of my marketing so far has been at local libraries and street fairs, and I haven’t sold a huge amount of copies, but I am selling books and the positive feedback I have recieved from my readers has been amazing. Don’t make the mistake I did of waiting 20 years to write your story- go for it!

  77. This is great advice. I am always on the lookout for ways to do things better.

    I have been a writer since I was five-years-old. My first piece was called “The Eagle That Had Acrophobia.” It was the hit of my kindergarten class at Stevens Elementary School in Ballston Lake, N.Y. I did have to prove to my teacher that I knew what acrophobia meant. That was my first experience with an editor.

    I have been writing ever since. I always excelled in English, writing and history classes in Junior High and High School and college. Didn’t excel so much in the sciences.

    I spent 26 years as a working newspaper reporter. As Hemingway observed, working for a newspaper is one of the best ways to learn how to write. I also worked in marketing for 10 years. Another good training ground. Both taught me how to write tight, well constructed pieces that told a story.

    Through all of that I continued to crank out poetry and short stories. Never tried to get any of them of published though.

    Four years ago, I took the bit in my teeth and started a novel. It is now 5/8 done. My draft should be completed by the end of January. That it’s off to a proofreader, a freelance editor and then an agent.

    Then we will see what happens.

    But I already call myself a writer. It is all I ever wanted to do.

  78. I started this writer journey a few years ago, and proudly called myself a writer. When I feel as though I haven’t lived up to my expectations, I shy away from calling myself a writer. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder that I am a writer, capable of sharing the beauty of living through my written words.

  79. Until I got published, I did not give myself permission to call myself a writer to the world. But, I always knew…in my brain that I am a writer.

  80. Maggie Sadler says:

    You’re so right! Once I started talking to people about my writing, it really gave me a push to get share what I’ve been writing for years instead of keeping it to myself.

  81. Sandra Wirfel says:

    Thank you for such an inpirational article. I am proud to say “I am a Writer” and when people ask the inevitable question “Oh, what do you write?” I proudly answer Children’s stories and poetry.” “Have you published anything?” “Yes. I have a children’s book The Happy Cow published, and another at the publisher right now called Pocketman, and I have a poetry compilation coming out sometime during 2014, we are planning for April, for National Poetry Month, but that depends on editing and such, if we do not make April we will defintely make Spetember for Natioanl Literacy Month.

    Again, Thank you for your inspirational words.

  82. Elissa Hunt says:

    I am an artist who is having a hard time calling myself a writer. Strange, huh? But I’ve been selling my paintings for years, and my novel is still in progress.

    This post really hits that proverbial nail smack-dab on its head. The sample conversation helped me see where I go wrong when mentioning my writing. I just need to be as confident about it as I am about my art. An artist is someone who creates art, and a writer is someone who writes. Selling the work is secondary, and does not define the creator.

    • Amen amen…thank you!

      My creed…”I write therefore I am!”

      I write everyday..not because I’m disciplined… But because I have to..its a passion..a drive.
      Most creative time? 2-4am…makes it hard to get up at 7 am for my paying job!

      I am published in an anthology of works, a poem published in a college magazine ( and a cash award) and I religiously write 3 articles per week on an online forum that is seen across the US.

      I have called myself a writer since I was about 13 when I wrote songs and poems.. As I got older I wrote more things..short stories..essays…newspaper shorts and in college it was my professors who called me a ” delightful witty writer”…so be it! Only called myself an author when my story in the anthology was published, as people bought that book from Australia to the U.S.

      Today? I am a published author and writer..yahoo.
      ** next comes making money from my works!

  83. I am a writer with a website that won’t work. However, I have just recently started to answer the question “what do you do?” with “I write.” Just entered my first NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my 50,000 words, but hey, I tried.”

    Thank you for the kind words. I really needed to hear them.

  84. Hmmm… it seems like not everyone who writes for a living would be called a ‘writer.’ For decades I had jobs that required me to write reports: archaeologist, teacher, policy analyst, education research specialist, and independent consultant. Sounds like writers are more concerned with bringing the work of specialists to the general public than to a small handful of fellow academics. This posting was very informative and helpful to me as I try to transfer to yet another career – writing for the general public. Thanks.

  85. I AM A WRITER!!! I have known this for far too many years. I have dappled in writing with rave reviews from those who have read my writings–from a newspaper article to a small town newsletter. I even had a story published in a magazine. I’ve been inching my way along my writer journey. I’ve procrastinated away from writing, but the ‘need to write’ always brings me back. It is who I am and what I love to do. I AM A WRITER.

  86. Becky Stepp says:

    Thanks so much Chuck! I’m starting out and this will be so helpful to me!

  87. Rebecca Lacy says:

    I am a writer. Yes!! That feels amazing. I was interviewing Kathy Buckley (comedienne, motivational speaker and advocate for those with disabilities) this morning for an article on inspirational women. She said over and over, “You are what you say about yourself.” If you say that you are a writer and believe it, you will live up to it. If you say, “Someday I’m going to write a book,” that day will probably never come. Thank you for the wonderful post.

  88. Jane de Bat says:

    Writing is not what I do, it’s who I am.

  89. I have been calling myself a writer for some time, in private. And to some select friends and family, but not the public at large. I write for fun, and to the world at large, you are not a writer unless you get paid for it. Lately I have been thinking it would be fun to see my name “out there”. I’ve begun studying how to build a web page, and a blog, so if I don’t win your book, I’ll just have to buy it. The only platform I need for my “novel” is one high enough to toss it off of. But I do good essays, so a blog just may be its own end, rather than a means to one. You never know until you do it. Thanks, Chuck. You didn’t tell me anything new, but ‘validation’ is often as good s information. Well, sometimes.

    Sam

  90. This article brought tears to my eyes.

    Everyday I sit in front on my laptop struggling to type anything. I get up and stretch and then move on to the basic pen and paper. When that does not work, I go back to my laptop and just stare. Tears flow. Pain pours out of me. I feel like a fraud, a fake, pretending to be someone, something that I’m not. These are emotions and thoughts that I harbor everyday. It’s excruciating.

    Still, I go at it everyday with the hope, the faith, and belief in myself that one day, even if it’s only one word, something will appear on the page.

    I created a blog to post recipes, thinking that would help me. Because I’m not all that great with web design and don’t have an income to be able to pay someone to help me, I stopped writing because I could not design it. I am still teaching myself and I will go back to it. Each day I find the courage to keep trying. I also have printed out business cards as well as conducted demos to dp the best I could at getting myself out there to create a platform. I honestly do not have a clue as to what I am doing, yet I keep trying.

    Thank you for your wisdom and your honesty. This article has been a blessing. I will read it everyday as inspiration.

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      If you have writer’s block, there are multiple ways to deal with it. Some of the great writers, screenplaywrights, or/and directors focus on one important scene and decided how to build up to that scene and then how to follow it. Take something simple like a guy staring the river below a bridge. He wants to jump. Why? Did he loose a child, dead…. cancer, mob hitter, murderous wife, car accident, you fell asleep and woke up to It’s A Wonderful Life, etc.

      Another thing you can is let your mind go, just keep writing. If it’s crap, cut it out later. A last good tip, read one of your favorite books again, why do you like it? What is it yiu like exactly? The character? The setting? The moral dilemma? Begin to answer these questions– then, you have something to start with.

      I spent two to three years trying to figure out a way to write a Science based Armageddeon story, and I solved it by watching a random show on The History Channel about a controversal past extinction (There have been five in geological history.) I did not even know it was on at the time and just walked into it.

      Relax and have some fun jotting down notes or idea and then run with thhem (while imaging you are a little kid running with scissors when everyone telks you to stop. Why? What will happen?)

      Will

      P.S. sorry for any misspellings, i am using a touch screen keyboard. I do not like them.

    • Jacqueline,

      Your blog looks great. Have you considered writing a cook book? Looks like you’d have a knack for it! I started out publishing a book of poetry because I’ve written poems since I was a kid. Sometimes starting with something that’s “easy” for you gives you a boost and the confidence you need to grow and expand to other areas.

      I tend to think when one is starting out, writing should be fun… not a tear-inducing, palm-sweating ordeal. Write what makes you happy. Don’t worry if anyone else will ever read it or not. Write what feels good. Song lyrics, poems, short scenes, jokes, recipes, write a rant on your biggest pet peeve … whatever you like, just write it. Then grow from there. There’s nothing worse than that blank page, so fill it up! Then you can move forward with less stress.

      If you take no joy in writing, is it really what you want to do with your life? So write something that makes you smile first, and then you can worry about writing stuff other people might read. Who knows… what makes you happy, might make many others happy too. 😉 *my two cents*

  91. When can you call yourself a writer? After you written something, obviously even if it is only a short story, an essay, or an article. I prefered until I finished a complete novel before I called myself a novelist. However, if you have a setting, plot, or original character in (your) mind with a story or two nearly developed, then call yourself a writer. If you point your writing out of a magazine, newsletter, or book, that’s like displaying medals or awards you earned.

    As far as in public: you can call yourself a writer as soon as you have plot sequences in mind and ideas written down (say a rough draft of a querry letter perhaps.) As you demonstrated in your article, as soon as you defend it or describe it confidently, why not call yourself a writer– you already written something, even if it is formulated only in your mind.

    I liked your article. I have spent over ten years developing on umbrella project of multiple stories and related series.

    Will

  92. I am a writer. What do I write? Stories and articles for children, oh yeah, I just finished a first draft of a MG novel. My first sale was this year to Highlights for Children. Then I felt I could call myself a writer. So far this year, I have sold four pieces, including one fiction piece, to Highlights.
    I am a writer.
    Great article, Chuck. Thanks.

  93. I’m a writer since I could hold a crayon, so never had trouble saying that. 🙂 I did have to learn to say I’m a novelist, and small talk is much easier now that I can say I hope my book will be out in the spring, or give web addresses I’ve written for. I do think if you process your world through journaling or must actually put pen to paper every day, you’re a writer the way some people are musical and others are athletic. 🙂

  94. Robin McCormick says:

    Being new to writing (seriously), this really hit home. I was having a conversation with someone recently. The usual question of ‘what do you do’ came up. I started stumbling through an explanation of the job I just quit. It was a description that felt awkward to me. A description that made me feel like my work didn’t matter. Later, I was thinking how I almost answered “I’m an author.” When I realized that & said it to myself, it felt like a large weight was lifted from my shoulders. It carried none of the awkwardness that my other description had. It felt right for me.

  95. Thank you for your article. I am just getting to the point where I can call myself a writer in public since I have sold a few small, freelance articles and my novel is half way done. Although I’m still a little nervous about sharing it with other people I’m learning to do it anyway.

  96. Kind of like “The Secret” popular about 10 or so years back. The universe will listen when you believe. The law of attraction. Attract writer status and success by believing it. It’s still good advice even if James Arthur Ray was one of the inspirational people interviewed.

  97. Thanks for the encouragement … wish I would have read it sooner. I am currently on sabbatical from writing after blabbing about my book to friends. Hopefully, I can recover from the trauma by the first of the year. I was trying to get up the confidence to complete my author platform and start talking about it.

  98. Bjorn Ulv Jensen says:

    You are making too much fuss about calling oneself a writer. Let your works speak for themselves.

    • Sam Bigfoot says:

      So, Bjorn, unless you have a good body of work published, you can’t call yourself a writer?

      • As soon as a local publisher (back in 2004) said they wanted to publish a short piece I’d written about my cat that was it! I told the world, “I’m a writer” and I’ve never looked back.

  99. Thanks for validating what I’ve already been hoping/feeling! 🙂 I’m much more confident now when I say I’ve finished “the first draft of my first novel”. I’m still struggling a bit with the “general fiction” part and a brief description of my subject. Need to put some thought into that as I review my manuscript this month. Next step, my carefully hand picked beta readers! Love being a Writer!

  100. I love articles that question the ultimate question… when can you call yourself a writer!

    Went through the same thought process a while ago and since then I love hearing how others deal with it. You can never know enough is my motto in life :D)

    I tried to get out of the sounding arrogant bit of calling myself a writer, but it’s not always possible because some people will always find you crazy or just ignorant if anything.

    Feel free to read how I went through it; will be trackbacking to this article also! (http://ireland-ms.com/2013/10/09/i-am-a-writer/)

    And thank you for always having such brilliant articles on here; if it wasn’t for The Write Life I would often end up with no nails anymore :D)

  101. Great motivational piece. When I think of writers, I think of creative writing. I’ve written for marketing pieces and non-fiction pieces, but I never really thought of myself as a writer. Now that I blog, I still find it hard to call myself a writer. I’ve seen that confusion of taking mommy bloggers seriously as writers.

  102. L.A. Remenicky says:

    Great article! My first book is out and I am continually working on my author program. I am a writer!

  103. Angela Braxton-Johnson says:

    Great article! Oh, and chuck, no need to look any further… you can go ahead and send me the book. 🙂

    Seriously though, my uncle John, told me when I was ten years old, after reading my composition book, that I was a writer. “Angie, you are a writer.” Those were his exact words, and although I don’t have a published book yet, I still believe his words now, nearly four decades later.

    I guess it time now to go ahead and put my money where my mouth is and my words where my ‘type’ is! Mmm Hmmm.

    Yes, Honey Child, I AM a writer! 🙂

  104. Vonnie Hill-Neyhart says:

    Chuck are you a writer? Can you tell me your answer in six words without aid from your bio. I did not comment to this for the free book. Hell, I’m always reading about how to become a bonafide writer. If I keep reading about how to become an accomplished writer, then I’m not doing much writing. Dammit, I’m a writer the minute I think about writing. I’ve written an e-book novel and short stories, therefore I write. Whether anyone believe, Tough. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer…….. By the way I’m going to buy your book. Looks like chicken soup for a wannabe writer.

  105. Creating my writer email and blog were the first public declarations of my intentions to be a writer. I still have the stuttering social moments in person, but each time it happens I get better and better at telling people about being a writer. At a thanksgiving party this year, I was finally able to say it with confidence and the lady I shared it with said she could tell I was passionate about what I do. YAY!

  106. Thanks for such a great post, Chuck! When I first decided to get serious about writing, I decided to follow blogs and Writer’s Digest, and all those “in the know” for advice. One of the first bits of advice was to start an author platform. I started my own blog and got a Twitter and Goodreads account. On one of the discussion threads I referred to myself as an “aspiring writer.” I got back a comment that has helped me so much. I was told that aspiring means hopeful, but just dreaming or thinking about. He further said that if I wrote, even a blog, I was a writer, not aspiring to be one, but I was one. I took this a bit further. Since I plan to write novels and I am working on my first novel, on my social media I refer to myself as an author. This makes me accountable. That way I must be working on my novel. By telling everyone this, I must believe it myself and work at it. It may be a bit presumptuous to call myself an author at this stage, but no one has said to me that I can’t call myself an author. In fact, they have been nothing but encouraging to me. I think first you have to own it, believe it yourself. That will bring the confidence and you will have no trouble saying it, “I am a writer. I write a blog, short stories and I am currently at work on my first novel.” I have never gotten the eye-rolling or the snickers. If you believe it, others will too.

  107. April Pang says:

    Those words frighten the depth of my core…”I am a writer”. You mean I have to claim ownership of this thing I do? I can’t tell you how many times I shy away from the very thing that makes me feel like I can breathe. I suppose fear would need to be a factor when considering the “announcement”. To all of the starbound writers out there, write on! I hope to join this elite group of confident ‘wordsmen’. (Did I just make that word up?). 😉 Thanks for the post. Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I am incredibly shy and self conscious!

  108. Very good advice. I’m not just saying that because I agree with it, but also because it is prudent to watch what you say when you’re starting a novel. I’ve already started talking to friends about my starting out, and some interesting looks and comments have been exchanged. One thing I really liked about your article is that is emphasized the importance of being true to your word when you’re letting people know about your endeavors. The expectations of anyone you contact will be astronomical, so only state what you really mean. Thank you for the awesome article!

  109. As of November 1 of this year I started calling myself a writer. I’ve been dabbling in writing doing edits on my husband’s writing, but never something for myself. Now I have a book review blog. I’ve combined the love of books with writing about them. I also did my 30-day sprint with NaNoWriMo. I was able to complete my first draft of my first novel. I’m so proud. I CAN say I’m a writer. This next month I’ll start my revisions. November was the best month that I’ve ever had–pure enjoyment. Now I understand so much about what writers talk about. My characters became real to me. I spent the day thinking about them and then from 4 until I slept I wrote down their story.

  110. I’ve been rolling around in this kind of advice like a coon dog on a beaver pelt lately. I can’t get enough of it!! 😉 Thanks for more great words of confirmation and encouragement. I just started calling myself a writer this year (confidently!) and it’s amazing the path that those public statements have put me on!

    For the record – freelance mostly, for local community interest publications and blogs aimed at women. I also work with clients to create blog content and manage social media strategy.

  111. Good suggestions and affirmations. Thank you.

  112. I’ve been a writer for years in my head and heart. I introduce myself as one now. Time to pen my words to paper or type my complete idea in a tablet.

  113. A writer is, simply, one who writes. It need not be published or even publishable. It can be for yourself, or for your friends or family, or it can be what you hope to share with the world. All that matters is that you put your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes and dreams, into written words.

  114. Excellent advice–thanks for the post! Confidence–and actually writing–are key 🙂

  115. I’m such an intense person, I’ve never encountered family or friends doubting me when I say I’m a writer despite my lack of credits for most of my life. I published a book of poetry a few years ago, and I’m working on finishing a novel now which I intend to publish. Reading what you wrote, I realize I have considered myself a writer since I was 12. It’s an integral part of who I am. I didn’t even realize I had confidence in this area of my life until I read what you wrote. Thanks for the article!

  116. Hi, my name is Mo and I am a writer

  117. Very helpful article. This is something I can quite relate to. One thing that can really help new writers gain that professional confidence is to start a blog. So when you’re asked about anything you’ve written, you can confidently tell them that you have a blog they could visit. It would give them the impression that you’re a serious writer, and most of them won’t remember to check out your blog anyway.

  118. Great article. I’ve been having a bit of a writer’s “identity crisis,” which I’m sure we have all experienced. Very helpful!

  119. I ALWAYS wanted to be, and knew I would be a “writer”.  Ever since my fourth grade class back in 1984.                                                                                                                       It wasn’t until somewhere in my thirties I was told                                                                                                                                                                                                          simply,                                                                                                                                                                                                     “if you write, you are a writer”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That truly and finally resonated with me, I believed it myself.   However, the very first and last time  I said it out loud was in front of my brother and sister and immediately  eyes rolled and smirks followed.  I exclaimed with confidence,  “You don’t have to be published to call yourself a writer”   but I  haven’t written anything really  since.  I’ll be forty soon and coming across this  article now, in this New Year  tells me…it’s time to be that writer.  In all honesty though,  it will be  some time before I ever admit that aloud to anyone but myself.   :/                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  120. I basically treat it like a job. I’m unemployed in the true sense of the word, but when everyone else is at work, I sit at my desk and try to get on with some writing. When someone asks if I’m free, I may respond by saying that I’m “busy working”. I find this puts me in the right frame of mind. If I act like it’s a living then it becomes more than just a side hobby.

    Also, I totally have business cards printed off last year. Never go anywhere without them. Never get tired of handing them out, even to people who know me.

  121. I tell people I’m a writer publicly. No one scoffs in front of my face, but I definitely get those tight smiles and raised eyebrows and the questions, “Oh? Do you know what you want to write yet?” Yet! I love to say, “Yes, actually, I’ve finished a novel and taken it through three revisions and two edits so far, and I’m seeking representation.” And then they keep with the tight smiles, and I go home and write my heart out because one day they will see.
    (I do need to work on sounding more confident when I tell people what my novel is about, though. I should try DiNero’s trick!)

  122. Hello Writers!

    I found this page and I must say all those comments are very warm.
    Finally I found a place without huge ego, but true passion!

    I am a Writer since 1998 when I’ve got my first ‘notebook’ as a Diary, but I turned it to sophisticated journal 😀 I wrote my first stories and I loved it.
    During the time, I wrote lyrics and theater plays. It was amazing when I saw how everyone around me like it!
    I wrote scenario and 3 books as well, but they didn’t took my writingin company – well I was just 18 I was not surprised.
    Later I wrote just stories about something and I tried to wrote Series but mate left so I skip that.
    Since then it was two years without something special – BUT I can’t stop myself …
    I am going back to writing and I met here in London – few writers …
    Well fingers cross for all of US!

    Born to Write – Love and Light!!!

    x V

  123. I must be a Writer I write every day. I once asked a lady, who claimed to be a writer, What Genre? “Oh I write a blog,” she said (Ed: Not a very good one). She then asked me the same question I listed my children’s novel, a play, poetry, lyrics, magazine articles and a couple of book projects I am working on, Since that day she has tried her hardest to tell her blog world what a bad person I am (we have never met). She will always be a writa (sic) Whereas I AM a Writer!

  124. Great article. I’ve been writing for almost two years. I started telling people about a year ago that I am a writer. I also created my website, social media accounts, and business cards at that time. It’s been a great help for networking. Although I don’t have a book they can read yet (I’m in the editing process now), having these items helps me to network and keep in touch with potential readers.

  125. Great advice. I’ve called myself a writer since I was an editor of my high school newspaper. I’ve always felt I was a writer-and I’ve always written. What I’m working on calling myself is (published) author!

  126. And the Lord said, “Let there be a writer,” and I was born. How’s that do for calling myself a writer? Too subtle?

  127. Rebekkah k B says:

    I am so glad I’ve recently found your blog. The variety of advice and details found here are incredibly helpful and invaluable as I’ve moved towards venturing into the reality of writing professionally.

  128. Hi Chuck:

    Well, now you can add BARBADOS to your list of international fans!

    It really resonates because no one will take you seriously if you don’t take YOURSELF seriously first. I certainly felt reluctant to claim “writer” status like most of us because I take it so seriously. I think it helped when I actually made it official as my occupation in my passport.

  129. Charlie B. says:

    “Well, if you enjoy something and you’re good at it, then first you must define yourself as what you want to be. Repeat after me. ‘I am a writer, that’s what I am.’ ”

    This line, from the lovely movie “That’s what I am” (starring an amazing Ed Harris as a very inspiring teacher), really gave me a new perspective on who I am and what I’m doing with my life. I’m in the middle of writing my first work, a SF/F NA novel (planned as a part of a tetralogy). Sure, I’m chronically insecure about what I create, but at the same time I’m also very ambitious, so I keep writing. And I love to write. I need to write. Therefore, I write. I don’t know if I’ll ever get published, but I know what I am. I am a writer.

  130. Absolutely! Now is the time.
    Next question, “Have you written anything I would have seen?”
    I can’t wait to say, “Oh, yes, my book has been on the top seller list for a week, now.”
    I figure I might as well dream big.

  131. Laura S says:

    I love this article. I recently joined twitter, printed business cards in advance of the NESCBWI14 conference, and started telling more people “I’m a writer.” It feels great to be honoring myself and my dreams in this way. And to finally be ready for those follow up questions he mentions…

  132. Yes, I’m a writer!

  133. Glenn Bowman says:

    Cool info from a yo-best writer. We can all learn from each other. Us older characters living on fixed incomes can’t go out on that financial limb to attend all of those tempting conferences. We do cruse the net and find bargain copies of your great books.

    Keep up the stellar work at WD.

    And, yes, I can call myself a writer. One novel done but not published. Two more are in the works.

  134. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer. . .
    Thanks for this 🙂

  135. Writer Renae says:

    I am so glad that I read this article because I have always been told that you cannot call yourself a writer until you had something officially published. As if being a writer with ADD/Aspergers & fibromyalgia & a sole caregiver of a special needs child isnt a serious challenge (& sometimes quite discouraging) enough…

  136. Charles Thomas says:

    Ah me, oh my! Always the doubting Thomas – here I go again. Yes, no, maybe. Problem is, if you DON’T PULL IT OFF, you end up full of recriminations and self-loathing. Better, I say, to have SOMETHING already produced (whether published already or not) which you can refer to as evidence . . .

    • Perhaps, Thomas — I suppose different approaches work for different people. For some, saying “I’m a writer” helps motivate and inspire the writing (and editing, and publishing!).

      Heather
      TWL Assistant Editor

  137. Tara Gabriel says:

    Thank you! I am spending the next 8 months preparing to leave my current job as a speech language pathologist to pursue writing full time. I have the support of my husband and my friends, who only recently found out I AM A WRITER.

  138. Thanks for your advice. I’m still learning how to write in English (my first language is Spanish), I’m living in Chicago to improve my skills and I hope next year start a master program so I can become a better writer.
    I’m still feeling kind of shy when I talked about my writing wishes but I will use what you said.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year.

  139. Exactly what I needed to hear right now! As a single mom I committed to corporate America for the guaranteed income. I’ve written for business, and always planned to write for me in retirement. Then David car died at only 58. Definitely time to get started. So I secured a website, though nothing on it yet, and started a Twitter account. Nothing left to do but write – and now I also know to start calling myself a writer! Thanks!

  140. Great points, Chuck — I like the way you suggested we consider in advance our response to “What have you written?” to avoid those awkward “um…” moments which we have all had. Funny how our responses, though, can change depending on who we are talking to. Even the loftiest publication credits mean squat to a child or adolescent who really only wants to know if we’ve written fiction for their age group 🙂 But it makes me re-think genres sometimes, when people really want to know if I’ve written something that would interest THEM. If makes me consider trying something new, for that age or audience.

    I think our responses vary too depending on how confident we know that other person to be. Because when we have actually been published, to some that is admirable, but to others a bit intimidating, especially new writers. It’s a balance to encourage others while letting others know what we do — without boasting but also not being too timid. I like to focus on how my passion is writing, that I love to write, and have been fortunate to get into print. But I also like to say it’s a profession that can be learned with work, dedication, great resources (including Writer’s Digest mag and books), conferences and critique groups.

    I find that often those who are most interested in what we write have some desire to try it themselves. Others not interested in writing often don’t care about details and really want us to ask about them and their work, so a simple, confident response about the type of writing we do is enough.

  141. Great post. I am in the process of creating a pitch for my writing class. Once I have a solid pitch I will begin to share that “I am a writer” with others.
    I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.
    Thank you!

  142. I needed to read this, so thank you! I am a new writer, and even though I am getting published, it’s still hard for me to say, “I am a writer!” I am going to start saying “I am a writer” daily! My book will not be out for about a year, but it is completed, and I do know what it’s about, so I am also going to say “I am a writer” when I’m in public! Thank you again! 🙂

    • I have yet to call myself a writer in private or public. I review books/audiobooks. I don’t have the time commitment to actually spend lots of time writing, however I did write a first novel at the end of 2013. I know how much time it will take to edit, rewrite and make it more exciting for myself and for readers. Until such time, I just am unable to consider myself a writer.

  143. When Can You Call Yourself A Writer? This article couldn’t have come at a better time. I just won a place in a next bestseller, My Creative Thoughts Journal, to be released in October, 2015. I haven’t published anything yet, but this will be an opening for me to get out there and expose myself before it really happens. It is an exciting opportunity to present my bio and some words of wisdom for all of the world to see!
    So, yes, deep inside of myself, I know that I am a writer. Everyone else doesn’t know it, but I do!

  144. Wonderful post, Chuck. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from a long-time friend who was there the day I, at the ripe old age of ten, declared “this book is stupid. When I grow up, I’m going to be a writer!” More than 50 years later, she was there when I finally accepted the fact that I would never be entirely happy until I fulfilled that promise. That was when she told me it was time to start answering the question “What do you do?” With “I’m a writer.” It wasn’t long before, like Anna from “The King and I”, I started to believe in myself. Though my biggest claim publishing-wise is my blog of nearly 7 years and a few posts for others, I do have three novels and a children’s book in varying stages of edit. Thanks to the encouragement of my family and friends, I am, indeed, living the writer’s life I dreamed of so long ago.

  145. I am a writer!

  146. Carolyn Carceo says:

    I have a job because I need a paycheck to keep a roof over my head, but I identify myself as a writer because it’s what I can’t not to. The head has stories I need to, and it won’t shut up until I write them down.

  147. I had a dilemma over this very question a few months ago, so appreciate seeing this article. As a hobby, I quilt, and i have no problem telling people that I am a quilter. However, I think the dividing line comes when we answer to what we do as a hobby, and what we do as a profession. The hesitancy I have over calling myself a writer is that it is not my profession; I do not and cannot make a living from writing. However, I convinced myself that, because I write, it is okay to call myself a Writer. I will start calling myself an Author if I am ever so lucky to have something published.

  148. My husband always told me that I am a writer, because I am always writing in journals, writing poetry, short stories, or trying my hand at a book. I had trouble saying I was a writer, but now I am going to be published! Next year my book, Nocturnal Vows will be in print. I think that my husband’s encouragement is valuable in keeping me trying. So yeah, I think that people should call themselves a writer if that is what they love to do, even if they haven’t been published yet.

  149. I tell people that I write under a pen name for my own privacy, and they never ask anymore questions about my writing.

  150. Having exchanged numerous emails with my two brothers over the years, I became sort of numb to what seemed like shallow and “kiss-off” responses. Yet I know there is a bond between us that is operating just below the surface. Then one started saying, in response, “You ought to be a writer.” I thought it was just a way to be complementary without spending time to share his mind with me. Recently I have begun to realize that he might be on to something that I was groping with all along. Your article has lifted my spirits just as I have reached a point of uncertainty about the three or four writing projects I currently have going. One in particular is especially important to me and is also the most challenging. I am indeed beginning to call myself a writer, with the same limitations you stated. Einstein beware, I’m on to you!

  151. Jennifer Harris says:

    I loved the article. A definite confidence booster. I like the fact that you gave advice about what to do with follow up questions, and even the mantra of repeating whom you are to people.

    That was a needed reminder, Chuck. A thousand thank you’s.

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