Written by A Guest Author November 16th, 2017

5 Things That Happen When You Start Calling Yourself a Writer

By Elaine Mead

There can be very set ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ ways of being a writer – or so we’re led to believe. Historically, you’d need to have a publishing agent, an editor, published works, and books on shelves before you might dare to use the word ‘writer’ to describe what you do. And that’s all fine. It makes sense.

But in today’s digital economy, it’s not always about the old ‘right’ ways of being entitled to the writer title. Many people opt to only publish their work online, or self-publish. Many more still don’t opt to publish anything at all, preferring to keep writing as a private pursuit, or one they share with a select few.

It took me many years, hundreds of articles published online, and finally having a piece of work published on paper this year, before I felt brave enough to give myself the writer title. It felt all kinds of wrong at first – a digital writer isn’t a ‘real’ writer, after all? But the more I stuck with it, the more it started to feel right.

Here are a few of the things that I experienced when I started to use the title of writer.

1. Imposter Syndrome kicks in

It’s something that many writers will have already or will experience at some point in their writing journey. It takes a lot to get over the feeling that you’re not really a writer, and your work isn’t really worth reading.

I found it most helpful to seek out help in these moments of panic! It’s so easy to delete all those drafts you have saved, and ditch something you’re passionate about because of ‘the fear’. Get support from friends, family and others who can lend you a few kind words that you’re on the right path and you are actually good at it too. Oh, and make sure you just keep writing.

2. ‘Oh, so you’re a writer? Me too!’

Let’s face it, as a creative pursuit, there is teeny bit of smugness that comes from calling yourself a writer. But you know what? Once you start actually using that title to describe yourself, you’ll quickly find out that nearly every second person you speak to is also a writer – in some form or other.

Writing can be this deep dark secret, that so many of us do locked away in our bedrooms somewhere. Meeting other writers, new or established, secret or overt, is actually really inspiring and fun. It helps you stay humble, and it’s great to speak with others who are going through the same trials and traumas as you! (Rejection emails anyone?)

3. The dreaded published question comes up … a lot

Unfortunately it is still the standard go-to question when you mention you’re a writer. ‘Where have you been published?’ and people generally don’t care about online published work.

But you know what, that’s ok. As a new writer, I’m still learning and making my way, and I know many others are too. It can be so easy to hear this question and immediately go back to feeling like a fraud, but just remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished or how great writing makes you feel.

Not everything in life is about the top end success story (although it can be very nice to experience). As long as you love what you’re doing and you’re proud of your writing, that’s kind of all that matters.

4. It does actually open a few small doors

Daring to call myself a writer has actually been a really rewarding experience – in more ways than one. Once I actually started to acknowledge this part of my life properly, and in a public way, it landed a few more opportunities my way.

I’m not talking getting signed by an agent or book deals, but I got invited to write for a few new publications, provide commentary articles about my other work, and guest blog for a few lovely people. It’s been a really great experience!

Putting yourself out there can be hard, but it can also bring new opportunities your way. Even ones you probably wouldn’t have pursued on your own.

5. You feel kind of proud

And a little bit relieved! You can just enjoy doing what you do, out in the open – and that’s a pretty great feeling.

Bio: Elaine Mead is a freelance writer and editor, operating mainly in the digital sphere but is slowly moving into print. She was the 2017 ‘New Voices’ winner – a writing competition run by Londnr Magazine and the London Writers Network. You can find her writing portfolio online here: www.articlegrinds.com.


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