The Simple Reason You’re Not a Writer (Yet)

The Simple Reason You’re Not a Writer (Yet)

Reader Comments (126)

  1. Timely article. I blog and write constantly on my website but haven’t yet “named” myself a writer. I was thinking it’s time I did so, so I will. Thank you. from Sally Kirkman, Astrologer & Writer.

  2. As I read this article it made so much sense to me. Because this thought “believe in yourself gives you confidence” is definitely the key. This applies to every aspect of ones life. It’s one of the determining factors if a person will be successful or give up and quit. Having the confidence in oneself to believe that they can do it will help push them to succeed.

  3. This is obviously one of best way to judge yourself and figure out if you are a real writer. If you believe in yourself and ready to take the challenge just learn the basics and keep working. You will improve slowly but all the time you spend learning, writing and reviewing your own work will eventually bring applauds from others.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    That’s so true; you won’t act, be treated as, work like, or succeed like a real writer unless you call yourself that.

    For me the shift came in the form of quality. When I started to consider myself a “real” writer, I also raised my standards.

    And you’re right; you must call yourself a writer to succeed as one 😉

  5. As an expert in marketing, (see what I did there?) I recognize that this applies to other professions as well as to all products and services. There are no benefits for not stepping up to the plate and being “Batter-up!”

  6. The quote used in the article, is what really very aspiring greatness in each one of us should have in our heads.

    We have to confidently pursue our dreams and get your confidence and say you are and you are working on being what you are.

    Nice article Jeff!

  7. I love this! I feel like an imposter sometimes, even though I produce great work. I’m going to start calling myself a ‘Content Expert’ and begin moving forward. It’s an exciting time!

  8. I love reading this Jeff. One of the things we do as Freethinking Renegades is “Declare and Proclaim” – despite what society may think.

    What you wrote here fits very well for people who are ready to achieve success on there own terms.

    Thanks Jeff.

  9. I like the thought that “you are a writer when you say you are.” this holds the strength of truth because if you write with belief, vision and passion, you are a writer. We can never control what others may think, at least directly.

  10. I’ve been blogging anonymously since 2010. Recently I’ve changed everything, switched from pseudonym to my real name and with that started calling myself a writer. Like you said: everything changed! I am now applying for writing positions with written content and a link to my blog. In one month my writing has improved significantly, I’ve been featured on 2 blogs and 2 websites (a travel site and a design site). I have a portfolio!

  11. Great article, Jeff and so right on the money about commitment to walking the talk.

    I too considered myself an amateur writer because I was so certain I was a music producer. Until one day years ago when I needed to get publicity for my mobile digital recording services back in the very early days of digital recording. So I called Mix Magazine and told them about what we were doing with mobile digital recording. They loved the idea, said we were pioneers and asked if I could write the article. I said, “Sure, I’m a writer.” And voila, I knew this was the premiere magazine for audio recording with a global audience and had to kick ass. So I did. The article got printed and suddenly I was a writer. It was totally fake it until you make it. But it worked and led to many other great gigs.

    Thanks for reminding me and many others about this important point in having success.



  12. Thank you for your contribution here. I really enjoyed reading your article. It is one of those articles that add value to our work-lives. I would even label it as a rare piece. It cuts to the chase and gets straight to the point. Over time, however, that has been a feature of your writing. That is why I always enjoy what you write: I look forward to your work, always.

    Writers are funny people. They don’t want to appear delusional. That is why they are reluctant to call themselves writers. They fear what the public will say about them. They do not want to be labelled as crazy or worse. That is why so many of them are afraid to speak their minds. Writers tend to be an insecure lot.

    In my case, however, there were no delusions, for I always wanted to be a writer: it was my childhood dream to be a writer. A chill ran up my spine every time I read my name in print. However, writing demands discipline, so you just should go out and do it, like the Nike ad says. If writing is your forte, do not hesitate to call yourself a writer and see yourself as a writer. Writing is a creative enterprise, after all, it brings out the best and worst in human nature. Through writing we exorcise our demons and restore our angelic selves. Writing is a journey of self-discovery, so plumb your depths. There is much to gain through self-knowledge and you can even make a career out of it. Cheerio.

  13. Never thought about this really, but I suppose I am a writer… I did consider myself a blogger, but is there any difference? Probably not! So thanks for this article, I’m officially a writer now 😉

  14. “What do real writers do that the rest of us don’t? They believe in themselves.” I couldn’t agree more. I listen to Doreen Virtue’s “Affirmations for Writers” every day and it reinforces that you’re a writer. Also, you may want to keep it to yourself that you’re a writer because family and friends may not understand why you want to be a writer.

  15. I love this – thank you! I had a bit of a profound moment over this concept about 2 weeks ago while filling out the birth certificate information for my newborn. There’s an entry for mother’s occupation.

    I listed writer.

    It felt fantastic.

    I’m enjoying your writing, Jeff. Thanks much.

  16. In our society, writing has been equated with the creative arts. Writers are considered “creative.” They are social misfits, introverted and can’t hold a job. Writers wait for the eureka moment to strike like a bolt from the blue. Until then, they are content to play the waiting game. Writers do not follow the conventional path. Writers don’t graduate from Harvard with a medical/law/business degree. Instead, they end up freelancing–another way of saying that writers are jobless or unemployed. So, there are a lot of stereotypes about writers and the writing life. Thus, writing is not for the faint of heart. You really have be be able to buck the trend and follow your intuition. The inner voice whipers to the writer to march to the beat of his own drummer, but this is frought with risk. You may have to risk social ostracism: people may not understand what you are about. In order to be a writer, you have to sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds, to paraphrase my hero, Mark Twain. Writing is a soltary activity for lost souls, but it feels great when you are lost. It is only when you are lost that you have the chance to accidentally stumble across the virgin territory of undiscovered ideas. Only writers have the luxry of letting their imaginations run riot: they do not toe the line. Cheers.

  17. Evidence from this weekend:

    “And what do you do for a living?”
    “I’m a freelance writer.”
    “Really? Have you ever been published?”
    “Yes, I’ve had articles published in a national magazine. Additionally, I write business copy for two consulting firms and web content for a number of small businesses.”
    “I need you to meet somebody….”

    Voila…. new client.

  18. It seems crazy, but it’s true. Last Christmas, I was invited to contribute to an Advent Devotional on Facebook, and when it was completed, the organizer wrote me back and said that mine was her favorite) and that when she looked at my profile (in which I had written that my job was a “writer”, she was so “happy to have a real writer among them” (her words…not mine).

    I put that on my profile, because I realized that calling myself a writer or a designer was the first step to become one. It broke down the barriers of insecurity and allowed me to claim my dreams out loud. I’ll take that lesson and teach my children that you get to define who you are… believe it yourself and you’ve gracefully bounded that first hurdle!

  19. Funny, I thought you were going in another direction: What do “real” writers do? They write!

    I’ve been calling myself a writer forever–I even have a degree in (Technical) writing, have written hundreds of user manuals, and wrote and self-published several books, but as a blogger, a new book writer, etc., the one thing I don’t do is WRITE! I’m always putting it off, talking myself out of it. I’m jealous of those who actually publish, because it means they actually wrote something!

    I KNOW I’m a writer, my degree says so, and I teach writing and grammar. But what really makes a writer a writer, whether you call yourself one or not, is writing–getting the words out of one’s head and onto whatever medium one chooses.

  20. Jeff, great point. I’ll add the next step to that…

    You can’t be the author of a book if you never see yourself as a writer.

    author & writer

  21. Interesting… but (as non-writers often think) you’re only recognised as a Writer when you get paid to write. I myself wanted to be a Writer instead of being an Ad Agency Graphic Designer. Reason being, Writers were – and still are – the actual driving force in the development of ideas, and Marketing/Sales promotions (and even more so, in the digital age)! So I applied to be a Writer (Copywriter, actually). When I got the job, I was TOLD that I was the Agency’s new Writer, and the rest is history, from Reader’s Digest to Agency Copy Chief/Director, and from Creative Publishing Writer/Editor to running Creative Solutions, my own DM Copy/Design firm. But all of this time, I was proud to be thought of as a WRITER. I was called (among other things) the Writer by other people, and I also called myself ‘the Writer’. Whether you’re a Fiction/Non Fiction Book Writer, a Copywriter or a Writer/Editor – being ‘a Writer’ means you’re in one of the most rewarding and worthwhile professions you can be in.
    NOTE: Once you’re ‘officially’ a Writer, you’re a Writer for life. Writer’s only ‘retire’ when they die.

    • I do call myself a writer, and I do write often — but have never been “published” save for a few comments on blogs like this one. Now I’m getting ready to start my own blog, but for some reason I don’t think of writer/author as anything but fiction. A blogger isn’t a writer because blogging requires more than just that. It requires marketing, which causes “true” writers to hiss and show their fangs at the “commercial” types who would have us sell out our art. So anything that doesn’t start with once upon a dark and stormy night isn’t writing.

      None of this, I know in my *head* is true, but in my *heart* I have difficulty letting it go, because I don’t want to feel like a “sellout.” (Cf. J.D. Salinger/Holden Caulfield.) We creative types have this block that says we don’t deserve to be paid for our art/work because money corrupts and is the root of all evil. I know that’s BS but can’t get over that for some reason, and fear being “assimilated.” What should I do to help myself out of that mindset? Or am I already falling victim to the Borg siren call? :-

  22. I had a writing ‘mentor’ of sorts while I still had a full time day job as a conference planner in the sales department of what was then Canada’s flagship Convention Centre.

    He was an established columnist and morning talk show radio host. He told me, “Don’t wait to take any courses. Start now.Get paid and take your first dollar or a photocopy of your first check and frame it. Put it on the wall, that’s all the diplomas you need to get started.”
    This works! But do know have a handle on your language, or find a friendly reader to edit you :). Good luck to all.

  23. Brilliant Jeff. It’s true. What you Say (about yourself) is what you Get!

    You are what you hear. You become what you say about yourself and what others say about you. If you speak negative words to yourself, your chances for success are minimal. If others around you are constantly questioning your dreams, achieving them is almost impossible.

    You may have to find a quiet place where you don’t feel embarrassed and say to yourself every morning, “I am a writer,” or “I am an author.” “People want to read what I have to write.”

    As corny as it may feel, spend time each day affirming yourself, your work, and boldly declaring your goals as accomplished.

    I hope your readers take this post to heart. What you Say is what you Get.

  24. As a fellow Copyblogger writer, I agree with you 100%, Jeff. Years ago when I first thought about being a writer I assumed getting published would take forever, but all I had to do was research how to submit queries and act like I knew how to be a writer. Less than 10 queries later, I was published in a magazine sold nationwide in major bookstores! Now I primarily do social media marketing so I usually don’t call myself a “writer”, but when I want to get published somewhere these same techniques still work… and that’s how I became a Copyblogger writer. 🙂

  25. Great post Jeff. I can’t speak as a writer, but in terms of turning pro, there seems to be a point when a person transcends doing things for themselves (chasing bliss) and delivers to serve others. It’s this intention to serve (or not) that shows up so clearly in writing.

    Same applies to writing good copy. Empathy is so effective when it’s sincere. You’ve got it in spades, by the way.

    Keep inspiring,
    Joe 😀

  26. For years, I was a writer…’on the side’. I had a ‘day’ job, and wrote special interest articles for magazines and online journals – just for fun.

    But I knew I was a writer. Period.

    It wasn’t until I quit that day job and asserted myself as a full time, full fledged, confident and capable writer that success started to come. The desperation of not having a regular pay check helped, but more than anything, it was redefining myself exteriorly based on what I knew I was on the inside.

  27. Timely article. I blog and write constantly on my website but haven’t yet “named” myself a writer. I was thinking it’s time I did so, so I will. Thank you. from Sally Kirkman, Astrologer & Writer.

  28. I was at an NSAA (National Speakers Association Australia) conference last year and met Dan Kennedy. We were talking about books and when I told him that I had co-authored half a dozen ebooks with my husband, he gave me a tag that said I was an AUTHORity. Ever since, I have bee really happy to tell people that as part of what I do is author books, write articles and blogs and speak and train people online and off. Now the next challenge – monetizing that whole thing and I will continue learning how to do that from Third Tribe, Brittany Lynch and Steven Essa.

  29. Like many other professions or titles… you have to make a real decision, commit to it, and jump in with both feet.

    As comments by Peter and others note, it seems like point #2 is the crux. When you publicly declare yourself to be a writer it forces you to shape up and produce better work. Otherwise you look like a moron for saying so! Push yourself and raise your standards.

    Thanks for the article, nice read.

  30. Jeff, brilliant piece. I just finished reading – blazing through in rapid fire speed is more like it – Stephen King’s “On Writing” and when he talked about not asking for permission, I thought of your original blog post on this topic. If you haven’t read it, I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. Thank you for honing in on this message. I also enjoyed some of your YouTube videos. You write for yourself first and foremost. Nice…. because we get to enjoy it too :)!

  31. hmmmm maybe I was a bit arrogant but when I changed from working on a building site to writing for Tim’s Minions I never thought about calling myself anything but a writer, it was what I did and what I was paid for.

    Andi ‘I am a Writer’Minion 🙂

  32. Thanks Jeff! Certainly calling yourself what you are going to expert that gives you the confidence to get deep into that field and works well in to that field. Once you start thinking as a writer than you starting feel like the writer and than you’ll be focus on what you going to do.

    Thanks for sharing great tips and I feel find it worth full. 🙂

  33. “When you call yourself a writer (or an entrepreneur, an innovator, or whatever), you’ unlock’ something inside yourself that wasn’t there before” now this will be my new mantra. Honestly, Jeff, this post makes me goosebumps. Thank’s for this inspiring post. This will be a reminder every time my lack of confidence strikes.

  34. Jeff,

    Thanks for doing the #15habits series. It’s been awesome. Such a great community you’ve built. I’m having a blast. It’s nice to connect and share others’ work.

    I’m not waiting to be a writer anymore. I was a couple years ago. My better half challenged me to write and get my thoughts out (my dream was always to be a writer).

    After her encouragement and prayer, I popped up one day and just blurted out to my wife, “I want to start my own blog and call it A Parched Soul!”

    The rest has been history. Well, more of a journey.

  35. Hello Jeff,

    You Are A Writer, If You Write. You can call yourself writer whenever you want, If you able to convince your self that you are a writer. Because the hardest person to convince that you are a write is yourself.

    Like the Saying of Steven Pretty much….

    BTW. Thanks for awesome post..

    Romy Singh,

  36. Whenever people ask what I do, I invariably dance around the reply, mentioning that it involves writing.
    “So you’re a writer?”
    To which I never fail to say, “Tryin’ to be!”
    Thanks for this post. It marks the day I decided, “I am a writer.”

  37. My journey to becoming a writer was much like my journey to becoming an educator. For years, I doubted that I had what it took to become a teacher. So, for 4 years, I took accounting classes at my local community college because it seemed like a safe route to take. But then, one day, I just realized, “this isn’t me!” So, I made the decision to become a teacher.

    After eleven glorious years of teaching, I made a decision to stay home with my son. Staying home with him has inspired me to follow my true passion, writing. One day, much like that day on my community college campus, I realized what I want to pursue, what I want to become, a writer. I want to make a living to support my son and me writing.

    Your blog post is an inspiring message that I no longer want to become a writer, but I am a writer! Thanks for the insight!

  38. Jeff, I love this. I think most of us have been jotting down ideas, scenes, characters, plots, and a million other things in notebooks for a long time. (I recently organized all of mine – there were… um, quite a few) Somewhere in an attic in South Carolina are boxes with the things that a seven year old might consider the next best seller. This year I actually decided to start calling myself a writer too – and I’ve found that it’s been a huge boost. I’ve done so much more this year when it comes to writing (including finishing the first draft of my very first full fiction novel) and I think it’s because I changed my opinion of myself.

    Good luck to the writers out there! 🙂

  39. Thanks Jeff for this article. While some people fear public speaking, my fear has been writing (or rather people reading my writing). However, starting right now I am going to claim it and I will watch how things roll out from there.

  40. Reading this reminded me of an incident many years ago. I had already been making a living for many years through my writing. Then one day I got chatting to a man a few years older than myself in the local supermarket in Brighton. He asked me what I did for a living and I said, “I’m a writer”.
    “How wonderful!” he replied, adding, “and what kind of literature do you write?” as he smiled and stretched out his hand to shake that of the next Martin Amis or Julian Barnes.
    “Oh no, I write ads and brochures, that kind of thing,” I said.
    His hand dropped. His smile evaporated.
    “Oh well, I suppose someone’s got to do it!” he said, before disappearing down the next aisle.
    After I had picked up the last piece of my shattered ego from the supermarket floor, I resolved to describe myself in future as a “communications consultant”.
    Still maybe you are right. Screw what other people think.

  41. Great piece! It’s an important reminder because a frequent companion of most writers is rejection. Rejection from readers, other writers whom you respect and family. Those are painful jabs to the head and heart. Ultimately, rejection undermines the writer’s confidence, vision and ultimately their ability – but only if they let it! I may expound on this further and submit it to you as a guest post 😉

  42. Hey Jeff!

    Great article! Love this… “They write confidently and courageously, without making excuses or apologies.” Its so easy to look at “the other guy” and think he has all the tools or all the talent. Thanks for always cheering us on!

    • Hey Paul. Thanks! And you’re welcome. Just checked out your site. Looks great! I’m excited about the platform you’re building. Great to meet you the other month.

  43. Hi Jeff!
    Great writing and GREAT article! It’s so easy to get into a rut and forget that we really and truly ARE writers.
    Thanks for the motivation!

  44. I claim it! And I say I am definitely a writer! As they say each and everyone have a story to tell. I think It’s the heart in everything you write that truly matters. Cheers!

  45. This blog post just changed my life. I get paid to write. I have been published in the Chicago Tribune (front page biz section). I had an editor of a major glossy accept my very first EVER quey for a magazine article 4 days after snail mailing (zero clips). The editor of another glossy asked me to write a booklet based soley on my discussion forum posts. Editors have sought me out…and I still didn’t dare call myself a writer. I hid behid an aka (marywriter) because I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. Jeff Goins you have set me free! I am a writer! Oh yeah. I am.

  46. I am a writer. Well a copywriter. I have always loved advertising and especially print ads and the words on the page. They can be very inspiring when used correctly. Your advice and the quote have helped me to finally say that that is what I am. I am not just an advertiser of a marketer……I am a copywriter.

  47. Well it was not until i wrote something I
    1. Knew about
    2. Felt passionate about
    Did any of my articles got published and earned respect !

  48. This was a great post Jeff! Something I definitely needed to hear. Scarred from my High School English teacher that was shocked I could even write my name I never considered myself a writer. Keep in mind I now have 2 music books published with a major publisher…but I’m still not a writer. I have a successful blog…but I’m still not a writer. I get compliments on my writing style and storytelling on a daily basis…but I’m still not a writer. Instead I have convinced myself that I use writing to get to many of the places I want to go. I’m not sure what I’ve been afraid of all of these years or why it’s something that I have been insecure about, but dammit, I’m a writer! Thanks!

  49. I totally agree with you. I guess what scares people most of the time about writing is the standards set by intellectuals on what should be a good read. But I think that anyone could be a writer as long as they know how to “show and not tell” the readers what they want to come across on their published works.

  50. This is just the post I needed to read today. There is so much truth in your words. Believe in yourself and you breathe true life and meaning into your work. Wonderful.

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