Have you ever struggled with calling yourself a “writer”? There is something about that title that seems to come with a showy-off type of feeling. It is as if saying you are a writer automatically means that you are saying you are talented. And people react in such a way, “oooh, a writer…wow!” and then often, we are required to “prove” how we are a writer. And I think that is where the confusion comes in.
Who is a writer? What constitutes a writer? Does it mean that you write? Does it mean that you get paid to write? That you have been published? And so, perhaps this is why so many people respond to the question as to what they do as “they write” rather than they are a “writer” as it just seems so much less messy.
But that is the thing. There is actually so much pressure and questioning and raised eyebrows associated with saying that you are writer, that we don’t own that we are writers. But we should not hold back from making that claim.
And here is the real kicker. I believe that everyone is a writer…in potential. I don’t mean that everyone is a paid writer or a published writer or even a talented writer. But everyone can be a writer. And that is because everyone writes…they just don’t consider most of the writing that they do to be writing.
Think about your day. Most of us have a to-do list. Or we keep a detailed calendar where we write our appointments and what has to get done. We all rely on email or social media to communicate and connect. If anything, these days, we write more than we speak face-to-face or even over the phone or Zoom. We write so much that many of us avoid any other kind of interaction altogether. How often have you texted someone (ie. wrote them) to even say: “Call me.” It is as if writing has become the primary conduit to communicate with ourselves and with others.
And why do people write? They do it to ensure they remember what needs to get done, to prioritize various things in their day, to have clarity and a visual log of all the moving parts. The difference between the everyday writing that everyone does, and the writing that a “writer” does is that writers know that writing provides these very same benefits: remembering, prioritizing, clarifying and providing meaning and permanence to all areas of our lives. Writing is the to-do list of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is the conduit for deep and meaningful communication with ourselves and others. So while everyone writes, we are writers, because we understand the power of writing to transform our lives.
So the next time someone asks what you do, don’t tell them you write. You do…but it is so much more than that. Make sure they know that you are a writer. And even more so, let them know that they can be and should be one as well.