I’ve recently joined a writing group that is going through the book On Being a Writer: Twelve Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts by Kroeker and Craig.
The first chapter and point of discussion for the group is whether or not you identify yourself as a writer. For some this is much harder than others although the common theme seems to be that it has taken most of the group a while to be comfortable calling themselves a writer.
I started writing in elementary school like many others. One of my favorite things to do was the creative writing assignments our teachers would give us. I loved to write and create stories, probably because I loved to read so much. Sometimes it was only a short paragraph, other times it could be a couple of pages of hand-written script. For the rest of my short school years, I continued to write mostly as assigned work. I was a person who actually liked the essay questions on tests because this came easy for me.
Fast forward a few years and as a young mother, I started writing an annual Christmas letter, trying to make it as entertaining and humorous as possible since I didn’t want it to be the usual brag and gag letter that we sometimes received. I also started journaling as a release for my feelings and emotions that I couldn’t tell anyone else. When I’d get upset or frustrated, instead of yelling at someone, I would write. I continued journaling for years. Now that I’ve finally found a little extra time after having my kids grown and having quit my job, I can indulge my dream of writing. So I blog.
Do I call myself a writer? No, I haven’t yet. At first it was hard to even tell anyone I’d started a blog. I told my biggest supporter and fan, first. My husband. He truly is very supportive of me and insists I tell him as soon as I’ve written another post. He has been very complimentary and cheers me on. Having gained a bit of confidence from his reaction, I told a close friend. Not long after that, I had written maybe 5 blog posts and had a few followers and a few positive comments from them and I decided to take the plunge and post about it on Facebook, sharing the link to my blog. The reaction was much better than I’d hoped for. I gained quite a few followers and several very positive comments which have helped me continue.
So I do tell people I write a blog. I haven’t even called myself a blogger, let alone a writer yet. I guess I think of a writer as someone who has had something published. But after reading the descriptions put forth in the book and discussion among group, I can see it is much more than that.
It’s not just writing though that I lack confidence in. I have other hobbies I spend time on and find myself downplaying those as well. I knit, crochet, cross stitch, and make my own greeting cards and I find myself discounting compliments and pointing out mistakes. Why do I do this? Am I afraid of being judged?
A comment I read this morning talked about not worrying about what others say as most of the comments will be coming from people who don’t themselves, write. It made sense to me. Most writers wouldn’t criticize other writers. We are a family and recognize other people have different strengths and weaknesses and there isn’t just one right way to do this.
So for now I’ll continue to enjoy writing my blog, enjoy this group even though it was scary for me to join a “writer’s group”, and look for other ways to use my love for writing.
Psst – My secret dream has always been to write a book. You’ll be the first to know, right after my husband of course. And in the meantime I’ll practice saying into the mirror, “I am a writer. I, am a writer. I AM a writer. I am a WRITER.”