How I’m Learning To Call Myself A Writer

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By Jillian Stacia

“I notice you’re having trouble calling yourself a writer. Why do you think that is?”

It was 3:15 in the afternoon, and I was having introductory coffee with an assigned mentor from a local networking group. This was our first meeting and I had barely finished my skinny iced vanilla latte before she caught onto my biggest insecurity.

I struggle to call myself a writer.

And it’s obvious. Even to the people that’ve just met me.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “It just doesn’t feel right.”

The question, of course, is why. Why doesn’t it feel right? I’ve been writing since I was a child. I love the way words sound, the way I can rearrange them on the page. How it feels to be the one in charge.

I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I got my degree in communications with a minor in professional writing. I’ve worked in writing intensive marketing and public relations jobs for five years. I’ve been published in several online publications. I have an entire freelance business dedicated to WRITING.

By all unbiased accounts, I am, in fact, a writer.

So why do I always feel weird when I say it? Why am I so awkward and clumsy when it comes to claiming that label?

Is it because I haven’t written a book? Because it feels like no one is reading my work? Because sometimes writing feels like a slog? Because I doubt my talent? Because it’s not my full-time job?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Or maybe it’s because I don’t particularly feel like a writer. To me, being a “writer” is more than just a label – it’s an identity.

A writer is someone who makes a living with their words. Who inspires others to think and question and dream. A writer drinks coffee and writes all day and definitely knows all about proper sentence structures and literary criticism. A writer is an artist. A writer loves their craft all the time. A writer’s work flows through them like magic.

A writer is not me, grinding through an essay at 9pm, wondering when I can go to bed. A writer doesn’t question their own abilities five thousand times a day or feel uncreative or out of ideas or untalented or unimportant. A writer definitely doesn’t wonder what she is doing every other second of the day.

There are other people out there who are writers. And they are wonderful and amazing and I love them and admire them, but I definitely do not relate to them. I am not a writer the same way they are writers, and it feels pretentious and naïve to assume otherwise.

I don’t call myself a writer because I have glorified the identity of a writer. I’ve put it up on a pedestal. I have this preconceived definition of what a writer does and doesn’t do, what they look like and how they spend their time. I have a fantasized definition of how and what success as a writer looks like. And I’m not there yet.

But I can’t ever get there if I don’t claim my identity. If I don’t give myself credit for how far I’ve already come.

We all start at the beginning. The writers I look up to? They all started here. Alone. Writing. Wondering if there stuff would ever be read. Wondering if they are wasting their time or chasing a pipe dream. Questioning whether or not they had important things to say and wondering if they were just being arrogant and naive enough to think that people cared enough to read them.

What if Glennon Doyle Melton never thought of herself as a writer? What if she never believed in herself enough to hit publish? What if she second guessed her value? What if Anne Lamott or JK Rowling or Liz Gilbert or Cheryl Strayed didn’t think they were “real writers?”

Maybe the world needs my words. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I’ll “make it” as a writer or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll find out that I want to do something else. But I’ll never know unless I go all in. And that starts with identifying as a writer.

It’s a small step, but an important one. It means I believe in myself. It believes I value my contribution. It means I’m committed to this dream. It means I’m all the way in.

So, without further ado, my name is Jillian and I’m a writer. Even if – especially if – I don’t always feel like one.


Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, click HERE.

{featured image via unsplash}

5 thoughts on “How I’m Learning To Call Myself A Writer

  1. millie schmidt says:

    oh wow you pretty much just described how I feel too! I know that I love to write and I do it every day, but I still don’t feel like I can say ‘hey! I’m a writer!’ I would totally own it if I was more hipster & arty – but I’m not. I feel like I have depth, but not enough to be an influencer or someone who inspires. I think I’ll feel more like a writer not when I publish my first book, but when I really start to embrace my unique and slightly nerdy writing self. But first I need to create a cool writing study, start attending writing workshops, learn more abut grammar, have other friends that are writers, drink something OTHER then coffee, eat healthy, sit on the beach with a notebook, dream more, write more, hope more. Eek I’m so far off what I want to be! hahaha 🙂

    Like

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