The scary-ness of calling yourself a writer

Unless you’re Mariah Carey, it’s a intimidating to say “I’m a singer”. I mean, someone might ask you whether you’ve got an album. Or [horrors!] ask you to sing on the spot. Like, right now.

It can feel just as scary to say, “I’m a writer”.

We squirm, wondering what qualifies us to have the audacity to consider ourselves real writers.
Is it when we publish that first book? Is it when our blogs reach some magical number of followers or has a post that goes viral on Facebook?

In our capitalist society, the mark of legitimacy is often a paycheck. I mean, I may love to dabble in watercolor, but it’s hard to say “I’m a painter” unless someone is willing to plunk down cash for one of my pieces.

But technically, this describes an author.
A writer, when you distill the definition to its core, is simply one who writes.

I must diligently hack off the extra words that try to attach themselves like barnacles to this pure definition. Those extras turn “writer” into Professional Writer, Technical Writer, Popular Writer, Freelance Writer, or even Successful Writer. Descriptive? Maybe. But they can also set an impossible standard of success that can make me say, “oh no, not me. I’m not that.”

I must remind myself that no athlete began with a gold medal, and most never win one.

I have to zero in on the fact that I like writing, and that the joy of doing something should be enough to keep doing it.

I am a writer, not because I am the best writer the world has seen (ha!), or the most profound, or the most well-known or prolific, but because I choose return and turn my insides out again on a page.

I am a writer, not because I do it perfectly, but because I do it.

And as I operate in the truth of who I am, I will become.

Original photography by Quinn Dombrowski

Today I’m actually joining a larger discussion over at Kate Motaung’s blog about the book On Being a Writer by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. I stumbled on the conversation last week as I browsed through my feed on Bloglovin’, and it scratched an itch I didn’t realize I had. 

Lately, I’ve been doing some hard thinking about this writing thing. I’ve been asking myself some hard questions, like “why do I write anyway?”, “what are my motivations?”, and “what should my writing give you, the readers?”

More on that later. Thanks for coming along as I process. 🙂

4 thoughts

  1. Cherise you aremost definitely a writer. One of the things I most notice about a good writer is that I can hear their voice coming through and that I can relate to them. I hear you so clearly when you write and I hear the Lord speaking through you. I love reading your posts and I love knowing you and your love for him. Keep writing friend!! Your work is doing good in me and others.

  2. This is, in fact, on the "about" page of my blog: one of my favorite quotations from Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Circle of Quiet: "It's all been said before. If I thought I had to say it better than anyone else, I'd never start."

  3. I sometimes tell people I'm a journalist because even though I don't currently work at a media outlet, I was trained in journalism for 4 years, and it has profoundly shaped the way I think about and interact with media and the world. I can't get the journalist out of me!

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