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Hi there, I hope this post finds you safe and well. The world can be a scary place, but hopefully you have found something that brings you joy.
Joy, for me, is in being creative. Baking. Painting. Writing. I love to create, to use my hands and my mind to make something beautiful. I love to imagine worlds and explore them, to talk to my characters and get to know who they are, to find the beauty in the monotony. Writing can be stressful at times, but I love it. Even the challenges it brings.
I used to call myself an “aspiring writer” or a “newbie writer”. Adjectives that make it clear that, while I do write, I’m new to this. I don’t have a lot of experience, especially from a professional standpoint. I am unpublished. I have no agent, despite valiant efforts. I have written one book that has yet to go past the eyes of my immediate family. I’m drafting a new one, and it’s a lot harder than I was expecting.
I have all these reasons to call myself an “amateur”. I worried that if I called myself a writer, I might be misleading people into thinking I actually know what I’m doing. Or worse, if I say I’m a writer, people will expect me to actually, you know, write.
According to the dictionary, a writer is someone who engages in writing, especially as a profession.
Is that what I do?
It’s certainly what I’d like to do. But as of this moment, I’ve never gotten any money from it. I can’t exactly be paid in warm, fuzzy feelings and my family’s praise.
Though I’m always open to receiving.
So I asked myself, why can’t I call myself a writer? If you google it, all these sites will pop up telling you when you can and when you can’t, people getting angry at newbies calling themselves writers, people getting angry at old pros who still haven’t adopted the title.
I suppose everyone’s just angry. That’s nothing new.
And why would I base my opinions off someone else anyway?
So I call myself a writer. Let me explain why I do this.
First of all, if you write, you are a writer. I don’t care if you haven’t made a penny. If you put words on the page, and you’re heading in some direction with those words, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t gotten an agent yet. Or if you’re unpublished. Or if you’re self-published. Or if you’re published and have established a career. If you use language to create stories, you are a writer. So stop listening to everything Reddit tells you.
To be a writer, you must write. That’s it.
Second, I’ve found that these “qualifying” adjectives were a way for me to degrade myself.
Yes, I write, but I’m new to this. Yes, I wrote a book, but it’s unpublished. Yes, I’d like to write for money, but I’m not making any yet.
Not yet worth the industry’s time.
These can get negative really quickly. And if you are painting yourself with these adjectives, you will probably start to believe them. You will feel insufficient. Worthless. See my post on Self-Doubt if this sounds like the inside of your head. It was mine for a long time, so I get it.
I ask you, is someone who paints, but has never sold a piece, a painter? Is someone who builds things, but doesn’t own a construction company, a builder? Is someone who tends plants, but doesn’t sell them, a gardener?
Do you have to be established, making money, and publicly accepted by the industry to be an artist?
When a child uses adjectives to downgrade their identity, their worth, what do you say? You tell them how great they are, right?
When your child draws you a picture, but tells you it’s not very good, you tell them you love it! You say, “This is beautiful! You’re an artist! I’m so proud of you!”
So why do you treat yourself any different? Why are you, a wonderful, creative, worthwhile individual, not allowed to be proud of who you are and what you do?
I realized that the only person who actually took issue with me calling myself a writer, was me. I was afraid that people wouldn’t take me seriously. That people might think I had a big head.
But why would they think that?
I am a writer. I have written stories, and will continue to do so. Money, or not. Though money would be nice… My mortgage company doesn’t accept the aforementioned fuzzy feelings.
I’m so tired of making myself small for the comfort of others. I’m so tired of using degrading adjectives in case anyone took issue.
So, I’m a writer. A good one, in my opinion.
Isn’t that the only opinion that really matters? Your own?
Be kind to yourself, and call yourself whatever feels right to you.
And above all, keep creating. The world needs more good, and you are part of that.