Writing Problems: Calling Myself a Writer

A friend recently posted this article by Chuck Sambuchino on her Facebook page, and the title alone had me clicking immediately: When Can You Call Yourself a Writer? He lays out when you can call yourself a writer personally, and when you can call yourself a writer to the world, basically now, while you’re writing, whether your published or not.

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, but it hasn’t always been something I’ve wanted to admit to other people right off the bat. Obviously, once they’ve known me for more than a couple of weeks, it’s hard to hide the fact of what I do, or want to do. But to actually come right out and say it is something I’ve felt uncomfortable with.

When I started attending Lesley, I began telling people “I need to do homework” when I meant “I need to write.” This was a much more easily accepted excuse to family and friends to not take part in something, or duck out early. People understand homework, but they don’t always understand the need to write a story that may never leave the realm of your computer hard drive. It was a crutch, though, something I could say in order to avoid explaining to people what I was doing and why I was doing it.

I’ve also had a hard time calling myself a writer to other people, especially outside my circle, because I’ve had very little published, and for a while none of it was paid for. That’s how I realized, through a conversation during a seminar, that I didn’t think of myself as a published writer, because I couldn’t tell people I was getting paid for it and without the “authority” of money it didn’t seem right to tell people that’s what I do.

I’ve become better about this, partly because it’s become impossible to hide. All my coworkers know I’m a writer, because I had to ask for chunks of time off twice a year to attend school. This has given me the chance to learn to grow comfortable talking about it, since some of them still ask me, with great interest and no judgement, how is my writing and what am I working on. Being open about what I do has also given me more opportunities at my job, as they’ve started to ask me to do projects involving writing, like Facebook posts and newsletters. Thanks to school, a large percentage of my Facebook friends are also writers (whether they get paid or not!) so it’s just unreasonable to hide what I do on there. And even with family and friends, it’s become easier to bring it up; yeah, I have a lot of creative buddies, but even others are willing to talk about writing when I bring it up, or want to actually read what I’m doing. Whether or not I get feedback from this, it’s a morale booster.

So, calling myself a writer to other people has been an awkward process, partly because I’m an exceptionally awkward individual. But doing it, finally, has helped me to be more confident in what I do, and what I’m trying to do, and has given me opportunities and a chance to connect with other people I did not have before (even if I’m still really awkward while I do it).

Other writer! Do you tell people that you write, even non-writing friends/family/coworkers? What do you tell them? Is it scary? Easy? Impossible?

2 thoughts on “Writing Problems: Calling Myself a Writer

  1. Thanks for sharing our post! Deciding when to start calling yourself a writer in front of the world is a tough choice, but you make some great points about the opportunities and connections you’ve found because of it.

    Heather van der Hoop
    Assistant Editor
    The Write Life

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