Call Yourself What You Are
I am a writer.
For me that very simple sentence holds so much weight. As of today I have sold over 100 copies of my book. But for me, it honestly was never about copies sold or money made, it was about doing something that I have always loved doing - writing. Don't get me wrong, publishing a book has been the most incredible experience and something I still can't believe I did. I'm completely caught off guard any time anyone else expresses excitement or pride on my behalf. I've found that there are two very common responses that I've received from people. The first is, "I had no idea you were a writer?" and the second is, "How did you do it?" A very close runner-up is, "How did you have time to do it?"
I'll start by saying that I haven't always allowed myself the title of "Writer". Isn't that silly? I have always loved writing. I remember doing it for fun as a teenager. I was forever passing notes written in gel pen back and forth with friends, or exchanging notebooks covered in Tiger Beat clippings of *NSYNC. I even did a little creative writing for fun on my parent's massive desktop computer. Then came college. The irony of majoring in English is that you get so sick of writing all the dang time that you stop finding joy in it. Despite this, I kept my little blog and held down a side job for my college newspaper covering fine arts, concerts, and the weekly horoscopes (Do not ask me how I did this).
I wrote for a newspaper, but didn't consider myself a writer. Let that one sink in.
After college I hopped on the Elizabeth Gilbert train and fell in love with her after reading her 2006 memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love". I was so inspired by her voice and vulnerability that I decided I was going to write a college memoir. I started outlining and writing a book that 12 years later I still dust off and hammer out a word count in from time to time.
I was WRITING A BOOK and still didn't consider myself a writer! Why not? What proof did I need? Who is considered a "writer" anyway? Who deserves that title? In my head, a writer was someone who had published a book, was very talented, accomplished, or wrote as their profession. While writing has always been something in the descriptions of the jobs I've had, it's never been THE job description. Which reflecting back on it, I've never felt like my description of myself was limited to the jobs I've had. So then, why couldn't I describe myself as a writer?
It wasn't until about two years ago that it all clicked for me. I was traveling a boatload for work and really got into podcasts. I started listening to one called "A Well-Storied Podcast" and in the very first episode host Kristen Kieffer shook me to my core. So much so that I immediately broke down in tears and had to pull over to compose myself.
Call yourself what you are – a writer. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. It truly is as simple as that. It’s not publishing or reaching a certain skill level that validates you as a writer. The fact that you’re actively and consistently creating new stories is all the proof you need to take up the title and start proclaiming your writerhood to the world. So what are you waiting for? Go own your status!
- Kristen Kieffer, "A Well-Storied Podcast"
So the the answer is yes, I am a writer and you might be one too. You just need to allow yourself the title.
If you're writing, you are a writer.
If you run, you are a runner.
If you sing, you are a singer.
If you code, you are a coder.
My friends, we need to stop minimizing our talents and passions. Own them and call yourself what you are.