On Writing: being a writer?

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On Writing

The wonderful Maddy at Writing Bubble and Chrissie at Muddled Manuscript have started a fabulous new linky What I’m Writing and it has got me thinking.

They are both wonderful supporters of my linky The Prompt, which is really special as they are, what I think of as, proper writers. They are working on novels. They write the most amazing poetry. They are creative and entertaining and inventive.

I don’t think of myself in those terms; am I really a writer?

I know I can put together a fairly well constructed sentence.

I know I can play with words and write something that flows, makes sense and has a shape to it.

I feel that I can write half way decent poetry, which has surprised me no end!

I have written a couple of short stories, and while I was quite happy with the finished product, they were both heavily based on memories, so not what I would think of as creative.

So, what makes me, or anyone, a writer?

Is it what we write, how we write? Or, is it how we view ourselves? If I were to think of myself as a writer would that make it more true, or is the fact that I have written this blog for nearly two years, and have almost 800 posts under my belt, enough?

A journalist is a writer. Poets, novelists, biographers are writers. Those who write short stories, children’s books, comics, graphic novels, reference books, technical manuals; they are all writers. So are bloggers.

I am proud of what I have written on this blog. I am proud of how my writing has developed over the past year. Is that enough for me start calling myself a writer?

Writing has been a long held, middle of the night, dream for me. I’ve written diaries, journals, notebooks full of thoughts and feelings and ideas. But, I could never write a novel (famous last words!).

As I read the wonderful posts that had linked up last week, talking about novels and agents and publishing, I began to realise that while I don’t yet think of myself as a writer, perhaps I should.

I may be writing a blog and not a book, but I take huge pride in what I write here; I spend time honing and editing, I pour my heart and soul into what I write. I have a plan, I have an editorial calendar, I have ideas and projects and works in progress. I publish my work publicly.

Do I simply resist the term writer as it would invite comment, criticism, potential failure?

So, I took a small step and I updated Facebook yesterday! After two years of leaving my last ‘proper’ job title there, it now says Writer… That was quite a big deal for me; it’s a statement of intent, isn’t it? A commitment to that role, to making it my ‘job’.

Now, do I have the courage to update LinkedIn :)

What do you think makes you a writer? When did you start to call yourself a writer?

Muddled Manuscript
Mama and More

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34 thoughts on “On Writing: being a writer?”

  1. I remember well the moment a few months ago when I updated my Facebook info to call myself a writer! I felt like such a fraud (I still do a bit to be honest) but the support I got from friends was another step on that journey towards making my dream a reality. It’s silly really – I’d written one and a half novels by that point, but without having had anything published it didn’t quite seem ‘real’. Even without that as you say though what is blogging if not writing? You definitely have a skill with words that makes you not just a writer, but a very good one. Here’s to courage and commitment to new roles! :) xx

    1. I may have made the update, but I still feel like a fraud, and to be completely honest feel almost a fraud sitting alongside all you wonderful novelists in this linky. A big part of me still thinks that a writer needs to be writing/have written a book… But, as a lovely friend said to me, you write, you are a writer… I do think that needs to be caveated with you write ‘well’ and perhaps that’s why I’m vacillating between making the statement of intent, and deleting the update!

  2. I feel EXACTLY the same Sara. I would never have the guts to call myself a writer or a journalist but in essence, I strive to be both of those things. I think it takes courage and is a bold move – well done. For me, I just don’t feel I have the imagination or creativity to write something completely new, like a novel – in my head, that’s a proper writer. Stupid I know! Well done you x

    1. I don’t have the imagination to write fiction, but I’m coming to realise that fiction isn’t what makes a writer, there are many other ways to be one. You write so well Suzanne, and journalism (which is for the most part what I tend towards too) is writing. For me I think changing Facebook was a statement of intent: this is what I want to do, and I need to make it happen…

  3. I could have written this myself, I call my self a writer because it’s what I do and it’s what I want to be for me personally. I’ve had periods of self doubt when referring to myself as a writer because I’m not a journalist or a published author but am working on a novel, albeit very slowly! Good for you!

    1. It’s a tough one isn’t it? But I wonder if in this age of online publishing it’s about time we stopped thinking that writers must have published a book. Good blogging to me is a form of journalism, whether it be lifestyle or travel etc. Perhaps we become writers when we are read, and enjoyed?

  4. You’ve once again vocalised some of the thoughts that are currently swirling through my head here lovely. Congrats on taking the plunge and I hope you didn’t take too much time pondering over LinkedIn. I read the most amazing book at the beginning of the year called ‘How To Be A Writer’ by Stewart Ferris – I can highly recommend it for boosting confidence.

    For me starting the book writing process was a massive step towards thinking of myself as a writer. As I’m currently employed I guess it’s a little more complicated to actually start calling myself one publicly…

    1. Thank you, it’s interesting that so many of us have the same dilemma, or perhaps not. Traditionally writing has always been associated with books, and fictional ones at that. But, writing is so much broader than that. Still can’t bring myself to update LinkedIn, that would be a real statement!

  5. Thanks so much for the wonderful things you said about me in this post. You made my day! I struggle to really think of myself as a writer. Even though I state on my blog that I am one, I still feel a bit of a fraud. When I started my blog I called myself an ‘aspiring writer’ but after a while I ditched the ‘aspiring’ part because what I really believe a writer is, is someone who writes! I figure if I dont have the confidence to call myself that then how can I expect anyone else to? How could I ever get published or sell books if I dont ‘own’ the term? (To use a silly phrase)

    You are absolutely a writer though and a damn good one at that! Well done for changing your fb staus to reflect that!

    Great post. Thanks so much for linking to #WhatImWriting

    1. Thank you Maddy, and you’re very welcome :) I agree, a writer is someone who writes; and self belief is hugely important. I’m still hovering over the delete button though as there’s a caveat in my mind that really it’s a writer is someone who writes well… And, do we define ‘well’ by being read, enjoyed or paid?! But, put simply, writing is what I do now, it’s what I love, what I spend all my spare time doing, so I write; I am a writer. Now, I just need to work on the getting paid bit :)

  6. You need some NaNoWriMo in your life.
    I would say that you’re more of a grown up proper writer than I am! The novels are just something I fancied doing one day and now I’m addicted. I would never have completed anything properly if I hadn’t found out about NaNo. It helps to have a word count goal, so start small and keep going. 10k per month is MUCH more than I normally write on an off month and is a respectable amount.
    You’re definitely a writer – you’re not going to escape that easily.
    Thank you for the lovely intro and for linking up with #whatimwriting x

    1. Thank you Chrissie. I think my husband would disown me completely if I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, but as I’ve said in comments above, I don’t have the imagination for inventive fiction. Now, a memoir, that’s a possibility :) Once I have all three kids at school I can perhaps think about a more serious project… For now, I will continue to use the blog to develop, improve, try out ideas and new things, and just keep plugging away! But, you’re right, now that I’ve started, I’m not going to stop!

  7. Hmmm now there’s a thought – updating my facebook! Sara, your writing is spot-on and like you say, from your heart. Aside from that very important, very personal fact, you have inspired, you have given opportunity. For that I say simply ‘thanks’ :) #WhatImWriting

    1. Lou, that is such a lovely thing to say, I’m really touched x Still having massive self-doubt about calling myself a writer though, I keep thinking, surely I need to be getting paid to really be able to say I’m a writer!

  8. Pingback: Me and: being a writer? | Love All Blogs

  9. I don’t call myself a writer – although I have been writing my blog for 3 years now. I don’t know why, perhaps because in some stupid way I feel that in the old fashioned sense, being a writer would equate to having published a hard copy book – even though in my own mind I know that’s wrong because there are a million different ways to write and be a writer, and blogging is one of them. Good for you for having the confidence to write WRITER on your profile. I hope one day I’ll have the confidence to do the same. Looking forward to discovering your blog – and writing.
    #whati’mwriting.

    1. Thank you x It’s taken me two years to have the courage to do it. Like you a huge part of me thinks ‘fraud, you can’t say that, you haven’t written a book!’, but as you say, I think that is an old fashioned definition. In this digital age, online publishing is just as valid. If you write and are being read and enjoyed, is that not what it’s all about? My main worry is that by making that change to my status I’m being hugely presumptuous!

  10. Brilliant Sara. I’ve labelled myself as an ‘aspiring writer’ for a while now but never quite got into the ‘I am a writer’ mode. Until now. I agree with you, it’s the intent, the statement as much to yourself as anyone else. I look forward to where this new intent takes you :)

    1. That was the clincher for me, I want to write and I want to write well, and yes ultimately I’d like to be paid to do it. It’s not going to be novels for me, but journalistic writing is just as valid… I’m setting myself a challenge I suppose, I have to make it true now, don’t I?

  11. Betty and the Bumps

    Hi!

    You know, I was just allowing my mind to wander over this way earlier because I am considering putting “Blogger at Betty and the Bumps” as my occupation on my Facebook page.

    Do I have to make money from the blog to say it’s my occupation? How much and often do I have to write in order to say I am a writer?

    It’s a toughie! I’ve been blogging a year tomorrow and I am nowhere near as successful as other bloggers who have been at it the same length of time as I have. So can I say I’m a blogger? Does success define a blogger?

    I’m answering questions with questions now!!!

    Really thought-provoking post. Thank you!

    x

    #AllAboutYou

    1. Ah, but what really defines success as a blogger? Stats and page views aren’t all there is to a good blog. There are lots of wonderful, beautifully written blogs that have fewer readers simply because the author posts less, links less or has other priorities for their blog. And, self promotion isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you write and someone reads it, loves it, and it means something to them, to me that’s success as a writer. You write a blog, you are a blogger, go for it!

  12. You are a multi-talented woman! Clearly very successful in your engineering career and a great writer too. I guess it’s the same as photography too though – at what point do you call yourself a photographer? The problem with both fields is that they are absolutely saturated and I think the only way I’d ever call myself a writer is if I knew I was getting paid to do it, but actually, we *are* writers and blogging is helping us to stretch our writing muscles. I don’t think all bloggers are writers though, some people simply ‘journal’ I think. What turns us into ‘writers’ is the addition of creativity – in our use of language, wordplay, and exploration of different topics. (We also journal of course – that’s our perogative!) X

    1. I completely agree Sam, and you’re right about journaling versus writing, I’d been trying to think of a way to say that but couldn’t come up with a differential. I may have changed my ‘works at’ title on Facebook but I still feel like a bit of a fraud because a large part of me does think that I need to be getting paid to do it. But, for the moment, it is what I ‘work at’ – every spare minute! I just need to work a bit more at the getting paid bit! I have a friend who is a painter, but doesn’t currently sell work, does that mean he isn’t a painter? I’m still going round in circles a bit on this one, but I do think that if we write and it is read and enjoyed, we are writers. But, then I worry that I’m being terribly presumptuous about my own writing!

  13. I guess I haven’t really thought about this before… I suppose I write my blog for fun, whereas a writer I would consider to be someone who does it for a living? I don’t know… Food for thought! But think its fabulous that you’re going for it! Just don’t think I’m quite in that place yet!

    1. Yes, I’m grappling with that one, but I think that lots of creative ‘jobs’ have the same issue – photography, painting, music. Is getting paid the decider? I wonder if it goes deeper than that? I guess that’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out and I think that saying it out loud is as much a challenge to myself as it is a statement of fact, probably more so. In fact, definitely more so!

  14. As far as I’m concerned if you write regularly you are a writer, regardless of what it is that you write. I’m attempting to write a novel, have been writing my blog for about 3 years and write the odd piece of poetry. I am a writer. The thing I haven’t done until recently is refer to myself as a writer publicly. Go for it – update Linked In, and anything else! DO IT! #whatimwriting xx

    1. Thank you! It’s tough isn’t it, I imagine it’s the same with all creative industries because they are subjective and while some may feel you ‘qualify’ others won’t… We have to have belief in ourselves though, before anyone else will xx

  15. I say that my creative writing is a hobby, though, now that I occasionally get paid to write something maybe it’s a title to be proud of. Like me you don’t just throw words at the page and hope they make sense; I see some blogs that are just like extended tweets, typos and all!

    I’d love to be able to give up my proper paid job and earn a living from words and pictures but I’m too realistic to see that happening any time soon, so a hobby it will stay. You though, you reach for the stars! :) x

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  17. I’d love to call myself a writer, not sure I’m good enough though. I’m no good at poetry or fiction but I really love writing about life and childhood memories. I need to make more time to write about that really. Love your writing x

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