And You’re a Writer

When someone comes up to me and tells me they’ve been struggling with setting up daily writing habits, committing to a writing practice, or even time management (fitting writing into a busy lifestyle), one of the first questions I will ask:

Have you identified yourself as a writer?

Identity is one of the key foundational elements to a writing journey. There is very little success or forward progress for anyone who doesn’t believe that they are a writer. And yet, it’s one of the most common areas that writers forget to nurture.

About eight years ago, my husband, two children, and I were in a taxi. The cabbie asked my husband what he did for a living. They shared a small exchange before the cabbie looked at me in the rear-view mirror and asked me what I do for a living.

I said, “I take care of these two sugar cubes,” referring to my two children sitting on either side of me.

My son Riley looked up at me and said, “And you’re a writer.”

I remember chuckling, feeling embarrassed. Mumbled something that resembled a lame agreement and prayed that the cabbie wouldn’t ask me some of those dreaded questions:

-What kind of writing do you do?

-Are you published?

-What is your book about?

For the rest of the day I dwelled on my reaction. This wasn’t the first time I didn’t mention writing when someone asked me about my job. I’d say I’m a mom, or that I’m a story coach, or that I teach creative writing to children in after-school programs.

Two ingredients to being a writer

Why the heck did I suffer such angst over calling myself a writer?  I finally journaled through it because my self-degradation sat on me like a ton of bricks.

Over time, it occurred to me that my son’s assessment of a writer had everything to do with the fact I SHOWED UP every day to my computer. I didn’t have to be published or be a keynote speaker at a writing conference. I didn’t have to be choosing book cover designs or having conversations with an agent or editor.

Once I pivoted to my son’s way of thinking, magic flared. Truly. There was less guilt and drama over the fact I might choose to write instead of go to the beach with friends. I started writing for longer periods of time and writing more frequently.

Granted, I was still disorganized and struggling with elements like three-act structure and character arcs—but I was a writer. Once I’d made that identity, I took ownership of my journey—and I nurtured my writer self.

Your writing journey is crafted by you and your belief system, how you talk to yourself and act on a daily basis. The more you struggle, the deeper you should look at how you perceive yourself. Read this post by Kate Johnston | Author & Story Coach to learn why identity is a foundational element to a successful writing journey.

Show up and Nurture

Showing up and nurturing my writer self were the two most important steps I took on my writing journey EVERY SINGLE DAY. I have blogged a lot about the importance of writing every day, and this was something I figured out for myself around the same time I identified as a writer.

That daily affirmation & action can truly strengthen your resolve and help you stick to your short-term and long-term goals.

For me, taking ownership of my writing journey involved a sort of re-education and investment in my writer self. I began to attend more workshops and joined a writing group. I was more willing to share my work (and accept feedback, even the negative comments).

Learning and growing weren’t as scary under my new identity, plus I was able to give myself more grace. I forgave myself for not churning out ten indie works a year like my more prolific fellow writers. I was comfortable with the knowledge that I was re-launching my journey, starting over, and I wanted to do it the right way for me.

Your writing journey is crafted by you and your belief system, how you talk to yourself and act on a daily basis. The more you struggle, the deeper you should look at how you perceive yourself. Read this post by Kate Johnston | Author & Story Coach to learn why identity is a foundational element to a successful writing journey.

You are a Writer

Your writing journey is crafted by you and your belief system, how you talk to yourself and act on a daily basis. The more you struggle, the deeper you should look at how you perceive yourself.

-Do you engage in daily affirmations?

-Are you speaking kindly to yourself?

-Are you playing to your strengths?

-Do you step out of your comfort zone enough?

-Are you leaning on your support system, your team?

-Are you journaling through your questions and worries?

-Do you allow yourself grace to learn and grow?

-Do you compare yourself to others?

 

Take some time to explore these areas. Picture yourself as a writer (illustrate it in your journal if that helps) and imagine how your journey can unfold from this day forward.

Are you calling yourself a writer? Go deeper—do you believe that you’re a writer? Why or why not? Is there anything in your life that hinders your belief?

Have a writerly day!

7 thoughts on “And You’re a Writer”

  1. To myself, I know that I’m a writer, but I don’t share it my coworkers, etc. I’m not sure why that is. Once, during a staff meeting, we were going around the room introducing ourselves to a new member assigned to my unit. A coworker told everyone that I forget to mention I’m a writer, too. I was so embarrassed. I’ve never been one who likes to have any attention put on me, so I suppose that’s part of it. Great topic, Kate!

  2. I think I remember you sharing that before, about your son calling you out “and you’re a writer” 🙂 Kids!!!
    At least I think it was you…at any rate, when I read that – at least two or three years ago, it made me think…and I (sometimes) add writer to the list of “what I am”

    thanks Kate!!

  3. I think it is hard to get past that first barrier of saying you’re a writer without feeling like a fraud, but it is empowering once you do. I think it’s great though that your son was able to be your cheerleader and say it for you until you could yourself.

  4. What an excellent message here, Kate. WE ARE WRITERS, HEAR US ROAR! (I love love love that your son piped up about what you are…). I had a difficult time with saying “I’m a writer” for the first decade that I began to write every day (when I was in my 40s). But I was teaching creative writing classes and telling my students that they were writing, they were journaling, they were going to classes – THEY WERE WRITERS. I finally followed my own advice, and as you say, the self-affirmation makes a big difference.

  5. Kate,

    I’m glad you realized you’re a writer and call yourself that when it was discovered. I didn’t have that inner struggle. I’d thought I’d been a writer since I was a teen, but it went to the wayside after marriage and children, and I was discouraged in my early twenties because I was told I couldn’t support myself on that, so I put it on the back burner and went to business college because I knew how to type well. lol In any case, the journey I took at that time was the right one. The seven English and grammar class at the business college cleared up most of my ignorance on grammar and made me a stronger writer. In any case, In the past year, I told people I was a college student majoring in creative writing and English. Now, I just tell them I’m a writer, and I say it with great pride…something I actually am proud of myself for. And that’s huge considering most of my life, my self-esteem had been so very low. 🙂 But I suppose when it’s your true calling, it feels good to say so. I’m a writer, and I love my job! 😀

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