When do you call yourself a writer?
Some days, it seems as if everybody thinks they’re a writer. A few years back I was visiting my mother-in-law in Cherry Valley, California, where I spent the mornings writing at a local Starbucks. As I sat outside sipping my latte and working on my laptop, at least five people a day approached me to ask what I was doing. When I said I was a writer, most of the people proceeded to sit down and tell me their own writing dreams. Guess I just have one of those faces.
One woman, a teacher, hoped to retire and write full time. One man had already published a technical book but really wanted to write fantasy. Another man said, “Oh, my sister is a writer, too.” When I asked him what she wrote, he replied, “Oh, nothing yet. But she’s going to start soon.”
Another woman, a self-proclaimed writer, asked what I was working on. When I told her I was editing a piece for a writing competition, she looked horrified and said, “Oh, I never rewrite. I absolutely hate that.”
“You never rewrite?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I just let it flow. If I’m in the flow then it’s perfect the first time, and there’s no need to rewrite.” (Now I knew I was truly in California).
Another woman confessed that she wanted to give writing a try because her friends were always telling her that she wrote the best emails. A man with a gold earring told me that he’d make a good writer because he could type fast.
The definition of a writer is vast and varied depending on who you ask. So when do you call yourself a writer? I remember when I officially gave myself the profession of writer—six years ago when I obtained my first passport.
I’d been a writer and published poet for years but never called myself a writer in any professional capacity until I was faced with the decision of what occupation to put on my passport. I’d recently lived through a life-changing experience that had me reviewing my priorities and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I still owned my own business and worked everyday in that, but my real dream was to someday earn a living as a writer. So, I took a deep breath and put “writer” on my passport.
A magical thing happened: I started taking my writing more seriously, which in turn led to new writing adventures.
Some Native American tribes believe that by calling a thing by its name, you gain power over it. I’ve proven to myself that by calling myself a writer, I’ve given myself that power. (Hey—I think there’s a story idea in there somewhere). If the universe is made up of energy, as science claims, and our thoughts are energy, then whatever we think about, whatever we believe ourselves to be, we become.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Whether it’s writer, photographer, artist, or scientist, why not start calling yourself that now?
Please share when you started calling yourself a writer and what it meant to you.