but am I a writer?
I also find myself chafing against the “writer” label even though I spend such a large amount of my time writing. I think part of me is afraid that I’m claiming the title, I will jinx myself and foreclose any possibility of producing meaningful writing. To quote Michael Scott, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious”! Beyond that, I also find it limiting to confine myself to one label. I’m sure it can be empowering to call yourself a writer, but I like inhabiting many different skins and wearing a multitude of hats!
The greatest piece of advice I was given (by a now a bestselling writer and then a literacy scout) was ' if you want to be a writer, start calling yourself one. Just do. She told me if you are writing words in some form (journalling, blogging, newspaper articles, meanderings that might become a manuscript.... ANYTHING), start calling yourself a writer whenever you can, if only to yourself. At that time I was "only" writing blogs and the beginnings of a novel (that to this day has never seen the light of day). But I took her advice and I'll never forget filling in a landing form at an airport and giddy from excitement that I was free to actually write whatever I want, I wrote in the space under Occupation: writer. I started saying it out loud. And it helped me sit down to write more blogs, and more articles and more meanderings. Those meanderings went to a publisher who rejected it. She said the story was meh but the writing was good. She'd researched me and found my blog. Offered me a book deal. I published my second book last year and those 17 years of blogging have been the groundwork now as I launch into Substack. I know from my work as a coach now, that the most important words you hear in life, are the ones you say to yourself. So if a writer is who you imagine and want yourself to be, then with any words written, I'd say, call yourself and writer and get going ;-)
I’m owning the title of writer. I recently finished The Right to Write by Julia Cameron and it was so affirming. Whether we’re writing an article, blog, memoir, post or newsletter, I think there’s room for us all 💛
I stopped writing in 2018. What was going on in the world was too much and I just didn't have the energy/optimism to create. When the pandemic hit, I started a podcast. (Because, when you aren't writing, talking is the next natural step, right? LOL.) Then I had to go back to work full-time and had no time for the pod. Now, I'm writing here (and can't seem to stop...I have posts scheduled through July), but I no longer have the desire to write fiction (even though certain characters and storylines of my half-finished third novel seem not to have gotten that memo). Writers write. Creators create. It's part of who we are, but only part. xo
I have loved reading through these comments and getting to know each of your individual perspectives on this topic. It’s so interesting to me! The comment that stood out the most to me was from Sarah Styf who’s professor said that to be a writer means to consider what we do as an actual craft. I love this!
Thank you for your post, Luisa! I really enjoyed reading it, and the comments 😊
I love your 'choose' list. What a great idea! As for me, I do identify as a writer. Not only because it's partly my job, but also because it's the way I process my thoughts, learn about the world and myself in the world and it feeds my creativity and curiosity.
Mos definitely you are a writer.... I have writer envy reading your beautiful posts 🌻 !!
I really love this, Luisa. How you've really interrogated the word/the label and how it sits with you. It's so valuable to keep thinking in this way. For me it's a hard won label and I'm so glad and proud I can use it without shame now, a LOT of work has gone into that. I feel like I've always been a writer, even when I didn't write, but finally I own that. I wrote it on an application form for the first time earlier this year and I took a photo of it! Love all the photos, and of course having my name appear in the same paragraph as Jared Leto was quite the highlight too. Happy holidays! x
Epic post, Luisa - you've given me so much to think about! (Loving the pics, too!) 🙌
I find that I tend to communicate better in writing. I process things better internally when I write through them in my journal. I prefer my own 'writing voice' more than my voice in direct social interactions.
When my grade-school peers wanted to be astronauts and fire fighters and ballerina's... I wanted to be a writer. I have been many other things since, but that childhood dream still breaths.
Am I a writer? I can't say I know for sure, but I do know I want to be one. Perhaps the desire is enough to continue forming my identity.
That's actually one of my favourite things about Substack, having a space that allows me to be a person who enjoys writing and reading words from other people who like to write but who also don't necessarily have dreams of becoming published authors or maybe they do and also write really cool newsletters. Feels like the "good old" blogging days!
I love that you're asking this question. I tend to ascribe to: A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for other people.
Really enjoyed reading your musings on this and I loved the 'I choose' list! Definitely something to think about and try!
I loved reading this and your description of this space as one for 'gathering people'. I am here hoping to be a part of community just in this way. I would never describe myself as a writer, and scan everyone else's posts for correct punctuation use so I can learn! I am hugely enjoying being inspired by the immense talent and wisdom and creativity here. It's enriching my life to be here to read. And along the way I have discovered something called an en dash which I had never heard of!
Your posts Luisa are just always so spot on! 🤗
I have problems calling myself a writer even though that is what I do here on Substack. I write. But I just can’t wrap my head around saying the word “writer”... out loud 🤷🏻♀️ And sometimes it is like pulling teeth to actually get myself to sit down and write so there’s that to grapple with as well. It seems much easier to say ‘I am a creative with many interests’. Somehow, that makes sense to say 🤪
I am a human. Everything else can be described as things I DO but not WHO I AM. I like freedom from roles, they all come with expectations. I like to write, I spend time writing.