There are a few things I’ve learned along my journey as a writer, from being an isolated writer living in a culture where writers write in isolation and from starting a writers group in a small community. Over the next three weeks I will share my experiences (professional expertise and personal experience) on the topics of Identifying as a Writer; Communicating your new identity; and finally, how I deal with what I like to call the ‘I’m doing everything but the writing!’ trap. I hope maybe my shared experiences may be helpful little nuggets to think on for other writers out there. And i’d love to hear your experiences too on the same themes. Here we go…
Identifying as a Writer (aka Part 1)
Having been a career counsellor and a specialist in the personal and professional development areas, one of the most common doubts I hear is
I feel like a fraud. I have the title but not the confidence so therefore can I legitimately call myself (insert title here)?
I resonate with this qualm especially as launching my own writing career was done by simply putting my 72000 word story on paper, with the aim to one day be published. Like so many others I have not formally studied the craft, I’m not published and I’m not super well connected to the writing and publishing worlds. So I did write the first draft of a novel but could not with any confidence or conviction call myself a writer. I felt more like I had picked up a plastic doctors kit and was playing doctor (get your mind out of the gutter). Usually what came out is a meak Yeah I’m working on a novel and it’s a thriller and only if people asked. usually one of my gracious friends would offer the information and i’d be obliged to elaborate.
My oomph moment came when I purposefully scheduled weekly write session to edit my novel in the company of another serious writer. Quite simply, it was the process of doing the work (doing the actual writing, not talking about it, planning it, dreaming about it, procrastinating away from it -a super developed talent and personality trait of mine) but sitting down and doing the work. In that moment, on one of those Tuesday evenings in 2016, I felt the neon sign glowing over my head ‘WRITER’. I felt legit.
When we take on new identities, it’s not always instantaneous and briliant. Anyone who has ever started a new job can tell you it’s takes a moment or two to get used to the new title and what that actually means to your persona. To integrate the identity into your identity. But after a little bit of time and a few small or huge successes the confidence and conviction come. The I feel legit with this title comes.
Now, I’m still not published, I still have not studied craft formally and my networking is coming along slowly but surely…but what I do know is that I am a writer and I write.
If we look at this statement:
The thing that defines a writer is that Writer writes. – Chuck Wendig
and you are a person who is writing. Then you can call yourself a Writer, no? It really is as simple as that. In my case, the confidence and conviction came a bit after in my oomph moment. Now that I started to identify as a writer, I had to start (gulp) introducing myself as one. More of Communicating my Identity as a Writer next week.
What was your oomph moment where you idenitified as a writer? I’d love to hear your story in the comment area below. Happy Writing!