View Full Version : When did you first consider yourself a writer?

10-12-2006, 01:06 AM
When did (or do you) consider yourself a writer? As silly as it may seem, I don't feel comfortable with that title, I don't feel I've earned it. Obviously, in a literal sense, it's true, I write. I've even published poems, articles, etc. But I don't know what it will take for me personally to feel worthy of the word.

Maybe I don't feel the quality of my writing is high enough yet? Maybe it would take something huge, like making the NYT bestseller list. :D I don't know.

Curious to know what other people's thoughts on this are.

10-12-2006, 01:51 AM
I don't know that I have yet. I write, sure, but I'm not certain that I've earned the title writer.

Great question.

10-12-2006, 02:07 AM
The day after someone pays me to read my stories.

Got a dime? :D

10-12-2006, 02:15 AM
I thought of myself as a writer when I became more serious about my writing and it became something that wasn't just for me. :)

aka eraser
10-12-2006, 03:51 AM
I've felt like a writer since grade school. I began to really consider myself one in high school when I wrote a weekly school report for the local paper.

There's something about a byline....

10-12-2006, 04:03 AM
I'm with ya, Frank.

I started to feel like a writer when I applied for and was given the job of movie reviewer for my local newspaper. It also struck me that maybe just maybe I really was a writer when I typed THE END in my first novel. Even though I haven't sold a novel yet, just finishing one is enough to be able to consider yourself a writer, I think.

10-12-2006, 04:43 AM
I thought of myself when I published my first short when I was ten. Okay it was just a school contest and it was published in the school's anthology with a prize of I think ten dollars, but I still felt like a writer then and have ever since.

10-12-2006, 04:58 AM
I havenít figured it out yet. I read a lot and get motivation and inspiration from other writers. Every piece a writer offers I cherish, learn and apply to my own writing. Do I dedicate all free time to writing? No. Do I write every day? No. Do I have a WIP that I am proud of and hope to share with the world some day? Yes. For now, this is all I can offer as a potential writer.

10-12-2006, 05:12 AM
The day I learned to read, I knew I'd be a writer.
So it went.
If only the rest of my life was that clear.

L M Ashton
10-12-2006, 05:13 AM
I think it was after I submitted my first article (for payment) and the editor actually loved it, which surprised the heck out of me.

ETA: I'd finished the first draft of my first novel a couple of years before that, and the second novel around the time I sold that article. I guess I really needed solid proof or something. :p

10-12-2006, 06:55 AM
It's funny how often writers feel like imposters if they call themselves writers.

To me, that quirk about writers reminds me: People think of writing as an art form.

That's a cool thing.

If you sit your *** in a chair and write for nothing more than the pleasure of creating something, you are a writer.

Just MHO, fellow writers, and have a good night. :)

Becky Writes
10-12-2006, 06:57 AM
I'll let you know when it happens.

I write. I write a lot. But it just seems like something I do, not something I am.

10-12-2006, 07:20 AM
I don't feel comfortable with that title, I don't feel I've earned it.

I understand completely. I was raised to revere writers. Writers are special people with a gift, the ability to look at the world and then paint a living, breathing picture of it with words that can convey emotion, pain, beauty, a veritable cornucopia of expressions abstract and concrete that are at once both intellectual and visceral.

I've can't do that.

10-12-2006, 07:24 AM
I was somewhere around 12 or so. I was always telling stories to people I knew in my head, about far away lands to normal ordinary drama, and when I was in High School I was reading books like mad, and realized 'Hey, this is what I want to be'. And, as they say, the rest is history.

10-12-2006, 07:50 AM
I first felt I was a writer in college, even though I had been published before in high school. It wasn't until college that I really knew I could write, and possibly get paid doing it. I was validated when I did finally get paid for my writing.

10-12-2006, 08:01 AM
I've always been a storyteller. My sister and I used to create complex stories for our dolls and action figures, and amuse ourselves for hours. I've always needed a creative outlet for my energy, and for a while, I turned to crafts: sewing, beading, painting, jewelry making. I dabbled with writing in middle school, and again in high school.

In my mind, I wasn't "a writer" until five and a half years ago, when a produced screenwriter read my spec script and said I had the stuff to make it in the business. So me being me, I took that encouragement and....started writing novels.

10-12-2006, 08:20 AM
I think the getting paid thing was what finally did it.

10-12-2006, 09:48 AM
I think there's two ways to answer this question.

If someone asked 'what I do', I wouldn't say I'm a writer. For me, that comes when writing pays the rent.

But, in a grander sense, I consider myself a writer and have since the second grade. It's my A-number-one definition for myself. It's my world-view. My bottom line.

Being a writer steers the direction of my life. Virtually every major decision I've ever made has been because I'm a writer.

I skipped college because I want to write write. I work this job because it lets me travel (= stories and "writerly knowledge") and because it pays enough money to sock away cash to make my stand in LA. I live out on the road, 1800 miles from my girl and my friends and my family because I feel more inspired in a rotgut motel on the outskirts of Cheyenne than I do in my living room. I deliberately make terrible, ridiculous choices because I'll get a story out of it.

Being a writer is who I am, what I am, and why I am.

Maybe I don't put "writer" in the box marked "occupation", but anybody who thinks being a writer involves cashing a check is missing the point.

10-12-2006, 10:09 AM
My first foray into the serious world of writing, began in University, where I was chosen as contributing editor to the Yeshiva University Newspaper. During my year as contributing editor, I wrote a series of seven editorials on University Life. I made a startling discovery that year. You can actually have an effect on people with words, and affect things that go on in your life with the right mix of humor and seriousness.

The year was 1977 and one of my contributions was actually a long piece of prose in memory of those who fell during the Yom Kippur war in Israel.

Those articles marked the beginning of my career as a writer and made a lasting impression upon me. When that edition of that paper came out with the prose, it was my second piece of seven, (I didn't even know it had been published) I was interrupted during the middle of class and told that I must report to the assistant deans office immediately. Of course I went there trying to figure out just what trouble I had managed to get myself into now. The secretary told me to go straight in, though her face was impossible to read. The woman who was the assistant dean at the time immediately asked me to close the door behind me, a strange request, but one I was not going to argue with. Only then, after closing the door did I realize that she had been crying. She took a few moments to gain some composure then explained that while at lunch she picked up a copy of the University paper and made the mistake of reading my poem while eating. Since then, she said, she had been crying and she had called me to her office to let me know just what an effect it had on her.

I spent years with that story hidden deep inside of me. It was one of those times in life when something so mundane happens which is also so incredibly spectacular that only a long time later do you realize just how it changed you. Until that point in time I was writing just to show that I could do it, and better than most people. I never suffered, then at least, from doubts in my ability (now I suffer them almost every minute). I knew my articles were read and made people laugh and even snicker at the absurdity of University life. But I never imagined, never entertained the thought that with words I can make people FEEL. And once one has held that magic elixir in their hands, the moment that key has been used - only once - to open someone's' heart, it is addictive. The rest of one's life no matter how successful or how many times one fails in other endeavors, becomes a quest to use that key yet again.

At that moment I knew I was a writer.
Once bitten with the writing bug, that was that. Everything I did in life, on every roller-coaster that fate has taken me, I have always sought a way to write about and share those experiences. In non-fiction and in fiction. For children and for adults. I have rarely been successful. Most other times I have failed, sometimes dismally. But I am a writer.

10-12-2006, 04:02 PM
i don't know, i feel like a writer, but i don't want to say i'm a writer yet until i (hopefully) start getting paid for it.

10-12-2006, 04:44 PM
The day I got a request for a full manuscript from an agent. That's when I knew I was capable of writing something interesting enough that others might want to read it.

10-12-2006, 04:45 PM
I consider myself to be a writer, as I invest a lot of my time writing and I have been published. However, I don't consider myself to be a successful writer and I certainly wouldn't introduce myself and say "Hi, my name is Justin and I am a writer."

In order to put 'writer' on my passport application form, writing would need to account for the majority of my income, rather than simply taking up the majority of my leisure time.

Kate Thornton
10-12-2006, 05:36 PM
I felt like a writer when I sold my first short story, signed the contract, cashed the check and saw my name in print.

It was glorious.

"Just Like in the Movies" sold to David Firks, editor of Blue Murder Magazine, 1997. Nominated for a Derringer the following year.

I still have the beautiful fountain pen I bought with that first check. I haven't stopped writing since, although I do a lot of other things too. I define myself as a writer, but also as an engineer, retired Army officer, woman with a colorful past, mid-century modern homeowner, etc. We all have many facets. Writer is one of them.

10-12-2006, 10:53 PM
That's a toughy. Well, I suppose it was when I got my first published clip in my college's newspaper. And now that I have my own column in my local newspaper, I'm FINALLY starting to feel like I've really made it.

Susan Flemming
10-14-2006, 06:03 AM
From the moment I received my first acceptance letter I've felt like a real writer, but it really hit home when I got the copy of the magazine with my story and my by-line. It's a thrill that has never worn off.

10-14-2006, 11:03 AM
I don't really say I'm a writer, I say I write with the hopes of getting something published someday.

10-14-2006, 05:07 PM
Now that I`m starting to earn a living from writing I feel more like one, but when people ask what I do, I`m still loathe to say "I`m a writer".

10-15-2006, 11:58 PM
A blog entry of mine from a couple months ago:

The other day it happened again. Someone asked me what I do for a living. I stammered and stumbled and finally said something weak like, "I do some writing."

Then he asked me what kind of writing. I stammered and stumbled and finally gave a disjointed list of some of the kinds of writing I do.

Unlike a lot of the people here, I'm doing this without a safety net. I don't have a real job or a spouse with a real job so unless I start making a real living at this, I'm going to have to go back to the dreaded 8-to-5 wage slave world. But if I don't believe I'm a writer, when will anyone else?

So I sat myself down, did some hard thinking, slapped myself around a bit, and came out of it with a more serious attitude. Now when someone asks what I do I say, "I'm a writer," and don't stumble a bit. That change in attitude seems to have helped me and I'm a lot more serious about it now.

10-16-2006, 02:21 AM
I first knew that I could write when I wrote a skit for my eighth grade social studies class. Even more so when I had two poems published in high school. But I didn't feel that I was truly a writer until my junior year of college. That's when I found my genre and my love for it!:snoopy:

10-16-2006, 03:07 AM
A few months ago. After having characters and worlds in my head my whole life, I finally managed to coalesce some plots and realised I could write them down. Before then, I was obsessed with stories, but hadn't seriously considered writing because I had no plots.

10-16-2006, 05:57 PM
I didn't think I was a writer when I first started getting paid for it. For a long time I didn't feel "legit" because I hadn't finished college. While I was in school, I wrote for the campus newspaper and I hated--hated-hated writing dull stories that didn't interest me. I quit and vowed I'd never write another story about a board meeting.

When I won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists, that was when I felt like a writer because it was my peers who were recognizing and giving a stamp of legitimacy to my talent. That was when I stopped feeling like a fraud and finally as if I belonged.

That was ten years ago. I've been pushing straight ahead since than and it's too late to turn back now.

I am a writer.

10-17-2006, 08:55 PM
I think I first admitted to being a writer in a writers' class given by David Gerrold at a Star Trek convention. I'd written a few fan stories (most of them awful) but he was very encouraging with everyone there. What he said was everyone who writes is a writer - they just haven't been published yet.

Having said that, though, I'm looking forward to seeing my own work in print for the first time - I won a short story competition last month.

10-18-2006, 05:24 AM
The day my father looked at me sternly at my tender age of 7 and asked me where I'd copied my story from. Best compliment I ever got! lol! (That and the whole, "Congratulations, it's a girl...is that a pen in her hand!?!" in the delivery room.) lol!

September skies
10-18-2006, 06:33 AM
When I was in sixth grade and every single one of my stories was always picked for "reading out loud"

I especially remember one time when he asked which stories to read and everyone yelled, "Read Esthers! Read Esthers" -- really made me feel special. Been writing ever since. (first byline in a newspaper at age 16)

Sliding Otter
10-18-2006, 06:41 PM
Interesting question.

For me it was a gradual process. I started writing short stories about eighteen years ago and secretly thought I could be a writer. When I started writing a regular newspaper column about four years ago I started introducing myself as a psychologist and writer. Now that I have retired from psychology, self published two books and still write my column, I feel ready to call myself a writer and do when I meet people.

10-18-2006, 06:43 PM
I think this is an easier question to answer, at least for me, than 'When did you first consider yourself a GOOD writer?'

September skies
10-18-2006, 07:36 PM
In sixth grade.

10-18-2006, 07:53 PM
Right after I submitted my first piece, and the editor of the newspaper called me and said I was a great writer and they were publishing my work the next month. For me, that was the turning point when I was able to call myself a writer without stumbling or pausing. Guess I needed that confirmation from a third party.

10-18-2006, 09:07 PM
When I finished my first novel. I figure a lot of people start one, but never finish it, so that sets me apart from most of the people who start, right?

10-19-2006, 07:02 AM
I really enjoyed reading this thread. Everyone gave such good answers.

Me...I guess I won't be able to call myself a 'writer' until I actually publish a novel ('cause that's what I write). I might tell people that I 'write,' but I couldn't tell people my job is a writer until I actually publish something.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
10-19-2006, 02:46 PM
The day I learned to read, I knew I'd be a writer. So it went.
If only the rest of my life was that clear.

A big 'amen' to that, cree. I read a novella in sixth grade about a man trapped on Mars in his ship and the air was running out (can't, for the life of me, remember the name of it or who wrote it!). I credit that writer with making me want to do the same thing to others as he had done to me.

10-19-2006, 04:54 PM
I started feeling like a writer when I started enjoying the process.

I started calling myself a writer after I had the first magazine with my article in it, in my hands.

10-19-2006, 04:55 PM
I've written as long as I can remember, but I still don't consider myself a writer. I guess I view writing as something I do, not something I am. Calling myself a "writer" is like calling myself a "breather." It's technically true, but it's not a label I consciously pin to myself. Does that make any sense?

10-19-2006, 11:23 PM
I suppose I first felt like a writer when a friend handed me back my manuscript and said "Wow, it's a real book!" A part of me took offense thinking, What, you think I couldn't write a real book? (I have issues with self esteem) but then I got hung up on "It's a real book!" and thought proudly, Yeah, it is.

But the clincher is, well, my brother is a mechanic. He talks about cars. All the time, everywhere. I talk about books and writing. I enjoy talking to other writers. I can talk writing all the time, everywhere. So I guess I'm a writer as much as he is a mechanic.

For me it is about the writing. I'd love to make money. But the finished work is the payment.

Edited for missing comma. If that isn't a writer, what is?

Bo Sullivan
10-19-2006, 11:41 PM
I first considered myself to be a writer when I was called up to the Stage in the School Hall at the age of 14, in front of the entire school on the last day of term, for writing a Poem called Sally, that won first prize in the Burnt Mill School Magazine - Poetry Competition. I was awarded with a book of Ovid's Metamorphoses in English and Latin. It was my proudest moment but fame has eluded me ever since, although it did teach me to love the work of Ovid the Roman Poet.

I went on to write two history books which have been published, but since the Publisher is Publish America I will not shout too loud and I definitely do not tell anyone outside of my immediate family!

10-20-2006, 09:45 AM
Why is it so hard for me to say I am a writer?

I write for a living as a freelance journalist, but that has never made me feel like I can call myself a writer. I guess I kinda mix up writer with author. In my own language there really isn't a distinction, you see.

I am as of a few weeks published and I have a book on the way in spring too. I still have trouble thinking of myself as a writer. THEY are writers. You know, the BIG ones. Who am i to put myself up teher with THEM? The ones I read, admire and look up to?

But I am practicing calling myself a writer. If I own the title, it will oblige me to take my work and myself seriously. In the past I've shied away from telling people I write - when I quit my job to write (I had received a grant and all) I told people I was unemployed, not that I was writing. How messed up is that? Then one day I had a vision: if someone someday was to write an obituary for me or a biography of me, what would they say? "She was brave enough to quit a steady paycheck in order to focus on her writing, but not brave enough to tell people that she wrote". I called myself on being such a chicken and now when people ask what I do I say I am a freelance journalist - and I write. Maye someday I'll be able to say that I am a writer.

10-20-2006, 02:35 PM
In 1971, after watching 'The Homecoming'. I was 5 and John-Boy Walton became my instant hero. I started writing after watching that movie. (And I became a huge fan of the new show, The Waltons.) I was a terrible storyteller back then, and an even worse speller...but I kept it up ever since then.

10-22-2006, 03:54 PM
When did (or do you) consider yourself a writer? As silly as it may seem, I don't feel comfortable with that title, I don't feel I've earned it. Obviously, in a literal sense, it's true, I write. I've even published poems, articles, etc. But I don't know what it will take for me personally to feel worthy of the word.

Maybe I don't feel the quality of my writing is high enough yet? Maybe it would take something huge, like making the NYT bestseller list. :D I don't know.

Curious to know what other people's thoughts on this are.

I began to consider myself a writer shortly after joining this board. That was about the time I began to take my writing much more seriously than I used to.

Now as to the term 'Professional Writer', I'll wait on that one until I've actually made a living off it for a while. I haven't even had a legitimate publishing credit yet, so, I've quite a ways to go there.

10-22-2006, 03:57 PM
I consider myself a writer, but don't introduce myself as such.
I will when I've got a published novel to sell.

10-24-2006, 03:28 AM

When I saw my book listed on Amazon and BN.com.

10-24-2006, 12:57 PM
Wordmonkey; Congratulations!

I don't call myself a writer. I'm not published. I just say I write novels as a hobby, though it's more than that. It's an obsession.:D

10-25-2006, 03:40 AM
I started telling people that I "want to be" a writer last year when I started my novel. Truthfully, I've always felt like a writer (whether I was working on anything or not). I can't see myself being anything else and I don't want to. If writers write, and I write, that makes me a writer. That's syllogism, isn't it? Solid logic. Someday I'll be a Published Author, but today I'm a writer.

10-25-2006, 05:14 AM
I think it was about in August, when I got the contract for my second book and decided I needed an agent. That's when I found AW. When I introduced myself I explained I wasn't really a writer, I just sort of accidentally had a successful book published.

All the writers here assured me that I actually am a writer. I guess I'm convinced now.

But when people ask me what I do, I still hesitate to answer "writer" because I do so many other things too.

10-25-2006, 06:39 AM
I don't. Usually, it's my husband or mother or brother or friend who adds on that I'm a writer (after I say, "Hi, my name is Amy and I'm an underpaid civil servant").

I write, and I submit, but no one wants me (as of today's frantic email/mailbox check-ins). Once someone does, then I'll add writer to my resume.

10-25-2006, 08:28 AM
Maybe today. But I'm not sure yet.

I've written all my life, but only for my own eyes. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started intentionally writing something for another person to read (a book). But that didn't make me feel like 'a writer;' it was just something I did, not a statement of identity.

A couple years ago I started writing poetry. My 16 yr. old son had just been sent off to military school as a last hope for some disciplinary problems, and that summer it was like someone turned on the faucet; I didn't even know what a sonnet was, but the poems started pouring out.

In the two years since, I've been published over a dozen times, but I have always felt like someone who dabbled in writing, not someone who was A Writer. I wrote a second book, a compilation of devotional poetry. While the first book has been languishing in 'book purgatory' (the 'maybe' pile at a publisher's), the second one just got rejected 6 weeks ago by the only publisher I've been able to find who would consider publishing a book of devotional poetry.

I've been at loose ends a bit since then; I pretty much stopped writing, and even quit coming to this forum until this week. The only time I got on the computer was to venture over to eBay to see what distraction I could find to occupy myself with. I finally hooked up with a close friend and mentor again a couple weeks ago, when I realized I needed someone else's input to help me get back on track. Last week I gave her a copy of my devotional book since she'd asked to see it. When I saw her today she mentioned how much she enjoyed it, which was heartwarming. But she also told me she thought I had a gift or calling as a writer, and asked me to consider how I'd structure my life if I were to consider it as such. (For example, setting aside certain times in the day specifically for writing--taking it seriously, like a job.)

So now I'm considering all that, and trying to see myself through someone else's eyes, someone who considers me a writer. If I can convince myself that that is part of my identity and calling in life, I may even get back into it, maybe this time with the discipline that's needed for achieving anything of significance.

10-26-2006, 12:51 AM
When I was seven. I wrote a poem about a lopsided duck.

Even then the word felt right; worldly, new, it fit. It stuck.

Cat Scratch
10-26-2006, 01:54 AM
In third grade I was sent to a Young Author's conference, and ever since then I just felt the title fit. Even though it took me nearly 20 more years to get published, I never got discouraged or felt I wasn't yet a "writer."