Friday, September 25, 2009

Call Yourself A Writer

That's right, you: call yourself a writer. Look into the nearest reflective surface (unless you are a vampire) and say to yourself, "I am a writer." I don't care about the ongoing and pointless debate over the meaning of writer versus author. Really, I don't. And if you do, I don't know why. Tell me what's to gain. On second thought, don't. But I digress. We were telling ourselves that we are writers. Do it. Do it now.

Next, tell everyone else you know. As writer Jonathan Evison says, you have to own it. You have to claim it. "You'll feel a whole lot better," he says, and he's right.

Has Bailey been drinking on a Friday morning again? No, I haven't, darn the luck. I have, however, been thinking. To be a bit less vague, I've been thinking about things that interfere with writing. My writing, to be specific. And as my immense ego lets me believe that I can generalize from my own experience, here I go.

Things That Interfere With Writing:

1. Forgetting that we are writers.

2. Not making time to write every day.

3. Not remembering to tell everyone we know that we are writers.

4. Second-guessing our sublime, cosmic genius.

5. Worrying about what you lot all think of us.

6. Forgetting that in the beginning was the word, and words are what we do. See item Number Four.

See where I'm going with this? Essentially, I am flirting with the sin of pride, reminding myself that writing is an ancient and worthy art, and as even the most humble practitioner of that noble art, I'm still entitled to call myself one of the worthies and be proud of what I do. Yes, even if what I write sucks. Because I'm a writer.

People (non-writers, that is) will tell you that even if you labor for decades, sweating blood over your writing, it's only worthwhile effort if you get published or if they've heard of you. Or worse yet, only if their Composition teacher has heard of you. Those people are wrong. Sucks to their comp teachers. Bring them 'round and I'll put a bit of stick about. They are wrong, and We Are Writers. It's a long road, and it's hard work, but what we do matters. Writers are part of the holy community of artists who carry civilization on its back into the future. That's some burden.

So remember, we're all superheroes. We are the future of our culture. We are writers. Remind yourself of this every day, and remind everyone around you, too. Now go write something.


  1. Awesome post and totally what I need today. It's so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one who has these fears and doubts. I'm so glad I found this site. Thanks! - G

  2. wonderful post!
    This is so funny because I really needed this type of a post. Whenever people ask me what I want to do "When I grow up" I always say I'm going to be a writer. They usually do this little pat on the head and give me a good job, now what are you really going to do? look. Its really discouraging sometimes. But I am a writer and I will be a writer. Its my love and my passion and no one will stand in my way. I will type until my fingers bleed. Then they will all see
    I didnt mean for that to rhyme but im keeping it in their for dramatic effect haha =P

  3. My favorite sweatshirt has the following saying on it: Careful, or you'll end up in my next novel!

    I was wearing the sweatshirt at a work conference in May and one of the women I see, once every year, at this conference goes: Oh, great, I'm going to end up in your next novel. My respone: No, you already made it in one of them.

    The other responses from people who don't know me quite well: Oh, you're a writer. My response: Did you read my sweatshirt?

    So, yes, I'm a writer. Some days I write brilliantly, and other days I just write crap, but still . . . I Am A Writer.

    Great post.


  4. My husband gets this all the time for saying he's earning a degree in theater. People give me a funny look when I say that's what he's doing. It's even worse when you say you want to be a writer, or worse, that you ARE a writer. Or even worse than that, that you WRITE FICTION.

    *palm to forehead*

    Thanks for this post, Scott. It's a great pick me up and reminder that we should love and be proud of what we do.

  5. I did this a couple weeks ago IN FRONT OF NINETY PEOPLE! I'm in a special communications program at my college and we all introduced ourselves the first day. Our goal was to, in ten seconds, sell ourselves. Make others remember us (especially the professor!). So I stood up and said "Hi, I'm Mariah. I finished writing a book yesterday."

    My professor remembers me.

  6. Scott, count me as another for whom this was perfect timing. I've had a lot of Life interferring with writing lately and it's hard to get back into it.

    I also have the whole "what I should be doing" thing going on--I'm "supposed" to be a lawyer, and now that my kids have all reached the age of going to school all day, I "should" be returning to the career I spent an insane amount of time and money becoming qualified to perform. Making the decision to delay that and to really write, and to tell people that's what I am doing, feels somehow like an indulgence, as though I am not really doing anything. Like it's a hobby, like I might as well be a lady who lunches. You get the point.

    So thanks for your words.

  7. Thanks. I don't feel I should hide it either. Although, many of my friends and relatives, who are non-writers, don't really accept this as a career choice. I have a hunch they will once I'm pubbed though.

    Lynnette Labelle

  8. Just what I needed to hear after a long night of editing.

  9. I may have to make "I am the future of my culture" my new mantra.

    I am writer. Hear me roar in words too powerful to ignore.

  10. Nice motivational post.

    There exists a fine line between confidence and pride. We can be writers and admire our own strokes of brilliance without being overly egotistical. We can talk about the quality of our work without bragging.

    Don't let rejections and criticism transform into self-deprecation. Have faith in your abilities.

  11. Here here! Or however you say that. This is a great post,and oh so true. Thanks for the uplifting, Drill Sgt motivational speech Scott. It's appreciated.

  12. Thank you, Scott. Just what I needed to hear today.

  13. Eric: It's tough love, but it's still love.

  14. You're so right! You need to own it, call yourself a writer if you ever want to be one.

    There's no point in getting discouraged that you're not a published author yet is you don't even have the guts to admit to yourself and your friends that you're a writer.

    I'm "supposed to be" a digital photographer, but that doesn't make me happy the way writing does.

  15. Great post! Most of my family knows I write, but it comes out more as a hobby. Which maybe contributes to my lack of confidence.

  16. Awesome post. :D
    I did it. I looked in a mirror and said, "I am a writer." I then giggled, because it felt like I was admitting a major secret. I'm adding that to my list of things to say aloud every day.
    I don't usually tell people I'm a writer. Or, if I do, I usually tack on a qualifier, like 'aspiring.' This post was inspirational.

  17. Has Bailey been drinking on a Friday morning again? I just had this same conversation with another writer on the fence about 'launching' her career on her family. I told her, just say it, once, out loud, and you'll never be anything else. I am a writer. Thank you Scott for justifying me, and all of us.

  18. Hi, my name is Amber, and I am a writer.

    I love the way that sounds!

  19. I paint pictures, but I’ve always had a difficulty calling myself an artist—it’s no wonder I find it hard to tell people I’m a writer.
    Then again, I even have difficulty claiming irrefutable motherhood.
    I see some serious therapy in my future…

  20. Oh man... You really got me with this one... I had to write a post of my own. I'm still pondering this...

  21. Thank you so much for posting this today. I needed to hear this!

  22. Aaauuuggghhh!! number 4!!

    It's been one of those weeks.


  23. I have not had time to respond to your comments today, dear writers, because my day job has been eating my head. But here's the thing: the road to publication (even unpaid publication on someone's unknown and crappy website) is paved with a whole lot of negative feedback. Some of it builds character and craft, but a lot of it doesn't. We all need to remember that the best part of being a writer is being a writer. So go forth and proclaim your calling, write bravely and have a nice weekend, all you sublime, cosmic geniuses!

  24. . . . i got another one for you, scott-- it's that great charlie kaufman line from adaptation: "you are what you love, not what loves you" . .

  25. Thanks Bailey!

    Very inspiring post.


  26. Sometimes writing is darn hard and I lose confidence in my words, but when I read a post like this, I snap out of it. Thanks!

  27. Hm, does this comment count as writing something? If not, then I'll provide a sample of my sublime, cosmic genius that I stole from a t-shirt at O'Hare Airport:
    Carpe Noctem.
    I know what it means but can't remember why the heck it was on a t-shirt...Googling...oh. A Goth mag.

  28. We Are Writers, hear us roar.


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