Robinne Lee (actress, producer, author of The Idea of You) asked me at a book signing last summer if I’m a writer, and I answered without hesitation, “No not really.” She was surprised by my answer because I briefly told her how much I enjoyed her take on crafting setting and her tips and tricks on writing romantic scenes.
I probably sounded like a writer, but then I told her I wasn’t. Then I proceeded to tell her that writing is in part, what I do for a living.
Obviously she was confused, as was I, but in truth, I have a hard time calling myself a writer. I’ve always been this way, even as I walked across the stage at SEMO University to receive my diploma – a Master’s in Professional Writing.
I always used to think that I have to be published to call myself a writer. That I have to be paid for my writing. That I have to be recognized by this publisher and that editor as a writer to call myself one.
Now I’m actually a writer for a real estate appraisal firm, or rather I’m Marketing Coordinator/Content Strategist. One of my responsibilities is writing articles for various online and print publications regarding affordable housing news – I’ve even been published several times.
But I still have trouble giving myself the title WRITER.
Especially when talking to established writers like Robinne Lee. I couldn’t call myself a writer to her, not while she sat at her table signing her books for readers. I was on the other side of the table, on the other side of the line, and couldn’t cross over into her territory.
I thought about this a lot for days later, because I was disappointed in myself for thinking I was less. I was disappointed that I couldn’t even say it out loud that I’m a writer.
Because I am.
That’s what I do. I don’t have to be paid for it, or published even, to call myself this. Credits don’t make someone a writer – writing does.
In an attempt to clarify to Robinne what I meant, because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, I told her I’m not the kind of writer I want to be yet – I want to be a romance author. But I’m still learning and working on my craft to achieve that goal.
In my head, this made sense. I think that’s what I meant all along, but she didn’t respond with understanding. Which made me sweat with nervousness because in truth, I was rambling incoherently – how very un-writer of me.
She responded by rolling her eyes.
Which made me sweat even harder.
She rolled her eyes at me and simply said, with authority and conviction even, “You’re a writer.”
I nodded, as she voiced the quiet part of my brain that agreed with her.
It took that moment for me to stop being afraid to say it out loud. To stop fearing what being a writer entails.
And instead, to own it. To be unapologetic about it.
To have the confidence of Conor McGregor in doing what I do, no matter what stage of the process I’m in.
It all starts with putting it out into the universe, to give voice to your dreams so that you may find strength in those words. Because words hold power. Writing them down, speaking them out loud to others and especially to yourself – this is powerful. It gives you power to continue pursuing your goals and to stop along the way to appreciate what you’ve done thus far.
It’s such a simple practice, yet it can really boost your confidence.
Practice saying your dream out loud, test out the words like a toddler learning to talk. The more they practice, the more comfortable and powerful they get with their words. In the same way, giving voice to our dreams gives us the power to believe in them. To believe in ourselves and embrace who we’re meant to be.
No, my writing career may not be exactly where I want it to be – yet. But that doesn’t make me less of a writer. Doesn’t make me less at all, no matter whose presence I’m in.
And ever since I’ve started saying that I’m a writer out loud, I have in fact felt a lot more secure in myself as a person and writer. When people ask me now if I’m a writer, or if they ask me about the manuscript I’m working on, I don’t shy away. I don’t wave them off. I simply tell them I’m a writer and plan to publish my book soon.
But the effects aren’t so simple. Saying it out loud has had a tremendously positive effect on me. Even if I haven’t exactly reached my desired goal yet.
Besides, Robinne Lee was a writer before she became a published author. Conor McGregor was a fighter before he became the champion. And me?
I’m a writer, damn it.