Welcome to the first post in a six week online discussion series, On Being a Writer!

I’m so excited you’re here!

On Being a Writer - CoverFor the next six weeks, we’ll be chatting about two chapters per week from the book, On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig.

It’s not mandatory for you to read in advance; even if you don’t have the book, you’re welcome to participate!

If you’d like, you can purchase the book here; and while you’re waiting for it to arrive, you can sample 1/4 of the book for free on Noisetrade by clicking here!

If you missed the initial announcement about this discussion group, click over here for the schedule and suggested link-up topics.

 

Here’s an overview of where we’re headed in the next six weeks:

On Being a Writer Online Discussion Group

Basically, there are a few ways you can participate:

* You could write a blog post on your own blog about the themes we’re discussing, then link up here on Mondays and Wednesdays

* You could type your thoughts and responses in the comments section of each of the posts in this series, and interact with other commenters

* You could journal privately at home, without sharing any of your writing in public

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or by filling out the contact form in the “about me & contact” tab above!

 

Here’s a short video introduction from the co-authors, sharing a bit of the background of how this book came to be, and an invitation to participate:

 

 

Sound exciting?

I was personally very challenged by this book and all the questions and themes it has raised for me as I consider my own writing life; I hope you will be equally challenged and encouraged!

 

***

So, let’s dig in to Chapter 1!

 

Chapter

 

Take a moment to watch this brief video on Chapter 1 from the authors themselves:

 

 

In this chapter, Ann and Charity dive right to the crux:

They want us to identify ourselves as writers.

First question: Why is that so hard?

Why does it take so long and so much effort to be able to utter the words aloud, “I am a writer”?

I wrote about my own struggle in a post called, “On Claiming Identity as a Writer.”

In this post, I share about how a fourth-grader tapped me one day after school and said, “I heard you’re a writer.”

I stumbled over the words like they were an accusation. I stuttered and fumbled and finally settled on, “I do like to write.”

But the admission wouldn’t escape my lips.

I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Yes. I am a writer.”

Not even to a ten-year-old.

What’s your story? Have you been able to identify yourself as a writer?

If not, what’s holding you back?

What makes a writer a writer? What are the prerequisites to “earning” that title?
Why do so many people who write struggle to claim the identity of a writer?
In this chapter, Charity asks, “What is required to call oneself a writer? Is it enough to simply put down words? Does a publishing credit or two, or a book in print allow us to claim this title? What of those writers who composed a bestseller and then didn’t write again?”

Share your thoughts in the comments below, and/or by linking up a blog post on this topic.

Come back Wednesday as we head into Chapter 2: Arrange. Start thinking and writing about how you organize your life — your time, your space, your priorities — so you can write.

 

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58 thoughts on “on being a writer :: identify {chapter 1}

  1. I still can’t say the words, and I’m not sure why.

    I’m constantly trying to shove the writer in me into the background… much like the Dursleys do to Harry Potter 🙂

    “It’s just a hobby” – “It’s my creative outlet” – “I’m just playing around at it for now”. But really, the writer in me is very powerful and she takes up the most space in my brain.

    On the other hand, I find I’m closer to identifying myself as a writer around strangers. But with people who know me – I avoid the topic like the plague.

    I have no desire to publish because the thought of someone paying to read my words makes my skin crawl. I HATE promoting my blog and often have to force myself to do it. Must get to the bottom of that.

    This book is interesting and I’d love to hear everyone’s experience with this topic. Is it well received by the people who know you well? Do you struggle with these things? I’ll be waiting under the stairs 🙂

    • There is no need for you to hide under the stairs, my friend!! You are indeed a writer and can and should claim it. I so identify with what you are saying about the writer in you taking up most of the space in your brain. I feel the same way as I am always thinking about words and sentences and ideas and have writing ideas pop into my head all day long that are prompted by the most innocuous of conversations.

      Identifying yourself as writer is scary but when I struggle with it, I often remind myself that I’m worried about what people who actually aren’t writers say or think or feel about me being a writer. That helped me to not put so much stock into what others might say. Plus I often found that others’ responses were not anywhere near what I thought they would be. People are more often interested and encouraging than questioning or discouraging.

      • “I’m worried about what people who actually aren’t writers say or think or feel about me being a writer.” This does help, Holly. I can’t imagine you struggling with this idea, but it does help that you sometimes do. Your encouragement means so much! Thanks~

        • karen, i concur w holly. you ARE a writer for sure. whenever i read your writing, there is no question you are not only a writer, but a good one:) i often wish i could write as well as you do:)

          when i have insecurity re my being a writer, it revolves around those who are writers and what they think when i claim to be a writer. my fear is that they would read what i write and go, “she thinks she is a writer? you have to be kidding!!” i don’t worry about non-writers:)

          they will either like what they read or not. they won’t care about my claims:)

    • I’m right there with you, friend! 😉 You’ve articulated my journey perfectly. I still say, “I like to write,” or, “I enjoy writing,” over “I am a writer.”

      Let me just say, YOU are a writer. A very gifted writer. You have a beautiful and unique, God-given talent, and I’ve seen you use it to His glory. Well done, for being a faithful steward and servant.

      In my own experience, I find that people who don’t share the same passion for writing might not understand the pull, or the “need” to write that you and I may feel — but that’s okay. Our job is to be faithful with the gifts God has given us, and let Him do the rest.

      So glad you’re joining in on this conversation. May it see much fruit in all of our lives.

    • First I want to say thank you for being honest with your journey. I can relate. I am finding so much encouragement from being parts of writing groups where every person says the same thing. It is hard to put ourselves out there. It is hard to give ourselves the title: writer.

      I love the encouragement you have received from Holly and Kate. You are a writer.

      I am a writer.

      Maybe we just need to repeat it to ourselves over the next couple of days.

    • I tried to follow your blog, but not sure it worked. Word Press has issues with me. 😉
      I read your What If game blog and loved it. You are a talented writer!! Get out from under those stairs!

    • Karen, I hate to promote myself/my blog also! It seems so…self-centered, I suppose. But I am a writer, and I do love to write. And I suppose if it is a message I believe in, or could encourage someone in their journey, then I need to get past that. Like you, I need to examine the “why” of this!

    • Karen!
      It seems we’ve been in each others head, lol. YES! Me too!!!! (Imagine me jumping up and down!!!) I ditto’d everything, and I mean everything, you said in my recent posts and thoughts over the weekend at the retreat. But God…

      Come on out from under the stairs, be brave and put your toe in the water, see if Jesus lets you walk on the water girl. Don’t promote, don’t think about publishing, think about the next step. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He may keep you in your little corner of the blogosphere and that’s perfectly OK. For some of us taking the next step is BIG, HUGE in fact.

      My WHOLE body is screaming in fear as I (homeskoolmom) and my husband and I (www.christianhomelife.wordpress.com, for now) step out. I get it, Oh do I get it!

      BTW, my family and extended family called me a writer long before I could call myself one. They saw what I did not.

  2. I struggled for a long time before I could call myself a writer. To me, a writer wrote books and published books and I had done neither. The truth is that I started writing in elementary or middle school. I wrote journals and poems and even tried my hand at a novel but didn’t get past the first chapter! It wasn’t until having a conversation several years ago with a friend who has published a book, that he challenged my identity as a writer. He asked me how often I wrote and I said every day. He asked me why I was afraid to call myself a writer and I said it was because I was scared of people reading my words. He reminded me that I was blogging all the time and that people were already reading my words. Oh yeah! Somehow I’d discounted that and had determined that it didn’t “count” as writing. But from that day forward, I began to identify myself as a writer. And I’m so grateful for my friend making me own this identity!

    • Isn’t it funny how often other people see things in us that we can’t see for ourselves? So glad your friend was able to point out your gifts to you, AND (more importantly?) that you believed him and accepted his words as your own.

      So grateful that you haven’t stopped writing over all these years — you have a special ministry through your writing, and I’m sure you bless more people than you’ll ever know! Keep up the great work!

    • Such a good friend. We all need those people in our lives. My fourth grade teacher was the first one to see it in me and sent me to my first writing conference. I felt inferior then, too! Surely everyone else was a writer, but I was just playing at it.

      It’s encouraging (in a twisted way?) to see other writers struggling with this. Let’s hold each other up!!

  3. Just, firstly, wanted to say ‘thanks’ to you, Kate, and to Ann and Charity for this online discussion event. I’m really grateful that you’ve all taken the time, so graciously, to organise this. I’ve read all the comments above and have just sort of ‘clicked’ on to something in my mind that seems to have been my problem in declaring myself ‘a writer’: it’s the maximum level of vulnerability, isn’t it? (As Brene Brown would argue)…to declare oneself ‘a writer’…putting our true selves, the selves that write from the heart, out there…our inner most words, our ‘self’ (for we’re never more our ‘selves’ than when we write)…all out there for all to see. [But as you point out, Holly…we do that anyway, when we blog!]….but it’s strange isn’t it? This is something we all want to do, so desperately, and something we all do so naturally (as we all have written consistently, daily, for years)…why let our vulnerability about it beat us down and quiet us? What *is* it that stops us declaring it? [And stops us, therefore, becoming ‘writers’…as, until things are named, they occupy no ‘real’ space…(as Ann Voskamp so eloquently writes about)]

    • So glad to have you joining in on this discussion! I read and enjoyed the post you linked up — thank you! Great thoughts here … I appreciate your contributions to the conversation. Great points you’ve mentioned, and a struggle for all (or at least the majority) of us. Glad we can link arms and press forward together!

    • I’ve never thought of it in those words before… “putting my true self out there” – but that’s so true. Why do I let my vulnerability quiet me? Thanks for your thoughts- they’re really helping me move forward – or at the very least, identify why I struggle.

      • I’ve read so many things already today that have helped me a great deal. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a community of like-minded people around us so, in which we can all help/learn from each other?

    • Yes. Amen. Saying it is vulnerable. It is telling people who we truly are when we identify as writers. I love that you brought up Brene Brown. I just finished Daring Greatly and as I read the book I thought of my writing life. To own my writing is vulnerable, because what if people don’t like it. What if they judge me because they don’t like it?

      And writers tend to not like the spotlight anyways. We like to sit at our desk and put words on paper. It’s safer. It’s a miracle that we push “publish” at all. 😉

  4. Love this discussion and the heart tugging over who we are at our core. Not everyone needs to claim the identity as writer in order to make progress in their writing lives, but some of us do. Even though I spent years writing before claiming that identity, there came a point when it was important to own who I am as a word-girl. Once I owned it, it became easier to tell others.

    Kate – You are doing great work here, offering a great platform for discussing important principles and habits for writers. Can’t wait for the next post.

    • Thanks so much for chiming in, Charity! As you can see from these comments, many of us are being challenged already by your book! Thank you for this very useful and thought-provoking resource.

      Also, I love this contribution you’ve made here: “Not everyone needs to claim the identity as writer in order to make progress in their writing lives.” That’s so helpful. Such a great point, and one that is often overlooked.

      Thanks again!

  5. I also want to thank-you Kate for hosting this discussion. I have participated in FMF for over a year and it has inspired me to keep writing. You are my community. I value seeing your posts and comments. After watching the video related to Chapter One I wanted to add a thought. It sounded like Charity needed to prioritize her life to bring writing to the forefront by dropping some other creative pursuits. That happens and is advisable but I see an enormous advantage to having painting in my life and music in my life at the same time as I am writing. My children are grown and I should have more time to pursue other things and I do, with the intent of one creative expression informing the others. If I can’t write about it sometimes I can draw it in my art journal. And sometimes the feelings can only be expressed in my music. Not everyday maybe, but I see creativity as language that heals when it is spoken and shared.

    • This makes me smile, Gabriele! Love that you’ve found community through Five Minute Friday. Isn’t it just the best?

      And I agree — often our varied creative outlets lend to and depend on one another. I think we’ll touch on this theme in the upcoming chapter called, “Surround.” Thanks for being part of this discussion!

  6. Thank you for getting this group and discussion going and for inviting me. I downloaded Amazon’s free Kindle app for my laptop and when I did that, they sent me a $5 coupon for a purchase which I then turned around and used on the book we’re discussing. I have read the first chapter and all the above comments and am looking forward to blogging about this from my own experience and also reading your blogs. Looking forward to getting to know each of you. Thanks again!!

  7. I too struggle with the words, “I am a writer.” Instead I use the hashtag #amwriting and tell my friends that I’m not seeking employment right now, I’m writing a book. I’m writing on my blog.

    I think I have glorified in my head what a writer is. A writer is smarter than me. Wiser than me. More successful than me. A writer has publishers chasing after them, thousands of followers, has to push away the fans.

    Over a year ago, I felt God calling me to write. To create a book proposal of the book I have been writing in my head for five plus years. To apply for Redbud Writers Guild. To attend writing conferences. I have been doing these things and devoting my time to them and it still scares me to take on the title, “writer.”

    I think I’m afraid people will laugh. I think I’m afraid people will be disappointed with the lack of product I have to show. I think I’m ashamed of not measuring up to the image of a writer I have in my head.

    But the reality is, I am a writer. I quit my job to write. I put time into writing instead of gardening or crocheting or even exercise (ok, that one shouldn’t go away) so that I can become better at this craft. So that I can someday feel I’ve earned the title.

    Over a year ago, Lisa Jo Baker prompted us on Five Minute Friday with the word “writer.” It was the first time I said I was a writer out loud. (Link: http://www.leahdeverson.com/dare-i-say-it-i-am-a-writer/) I think it’s time for me to own it again.

    Thanks for this challenge. And to the individuals participating in this group, I feel compelled to say, you have put the time and energy into reading the book, watching the videos, writing a response. I think you are a writer, too.

    • Leah, I identify *so much* with so many aspects of your thinking in your comment. I too think I have glorified in my head what a writer is, and I think it’s that that paralyses me, to be honest. I definitely also think I’m ashamed of not measuring up to the image of a writer I have in my head. Perhaps, as you suggest, its time to get serious about it. [I have been ignoring His calling on this front for many, many years]. Thank you so, so much for your comment: it has honestly helped me so much. Thank you.

      • This is so good. Us all sharing our uncertainties and fears. Maybe we can do the work to make being a writer a little more realistic for all of us. It is hard. It is full of sweat and tears. And writers are real people, too. Let’s take them off of their pedestals. I doubt they want to be there, anyways.

    • Thank you for lending your voice to this conversation, Leah! So happy to have you here. And well done for devoting yourself to the writing life.

      I hope this discussion group will be a great blessing to you, as we wrestle through these topics, struggles, and questions together. Thanks again for participating!

  8. I am loving this discussion. I have a hard time saying those words too “I am a Writer!” But the funny thing is that my mom has told me stories about how I was happy with pen and paper over toys many days growing up. I have always enjoyed writing and for my job, I get to write sermons…but I still cannot say those words “I am a Writer!” Honestly I am not sure what is pulling at my heartstrings and making me to hold back. I can think of one experience in particular (maybe I will blog about that.) But so often so many of my friends and family have uttered the words for me but why can I NOT say them for myself?

    • It’s crazy, isn’t it? Such a strange phenomenon, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. I appreciated Charity’s comment above: “Not everyone needs to claim the identity as writer in order to make progress in their writing lives, but some of us do.”

      I found that to be a great encouragement. Hope you do, too! Thanks for being here, Tara!

  9. I decided that I would participate in this discussion but I would journal my thoughts privately, which I’ve done. But part of my reluctance to identify as a writer stems from fear. Fear of what others might think. Fear of failure in some sense. Fear of exposure. Fear of getting started. Fear of finishing. Fear that my writing is not good enough. Fear that I’m not good enough. So I thought what better way to overcome some of my fears than by participating in this discussion in a more vulnerable way. So here goes!

    Although I’ve written a few things that have been published in small measure, it’s hard for me to identify myself as a writer. Perhaps I compare myself too much to other writers I respect who seem to be much more creative, whose thoughts seem to flow effortlessly, whose vocabulary and imagery seem to be much more provocative and developed than anything I could ever write.

    I’m also not sure I want to be ‘known’ as a writer. Writing is not how I would primarily or secondarily identify myself. It’s just something that I enjoy, not who I fundamentally am. It’s a hobby. Kind of like cooking. I enjoy cooking. It’s therapeutic for me. But I would not consider myself to be a chef. Similarly, when I put pen to paper, I enjoy it. It’s freeing in a sense. Like cooking, it’s therapeutic.

    Now it’s a totally different ballgame when I write for someone else. Those nasty fears surface and I’m like a possum on the road at night, paralyzed by the light and unable to move. It takes a lot of prayer to get past the fear and to trust that God gives me words and wisdom that He uses as a means of grace and encouragement for others.

    As I’ve meditated on what constitutes a true writer, I believe that true writers write regardless of whether there is an audience or not. You ‘earn’ the title by writing. I used to think that you must be published or have great grammar skills or receive pay to identify as a writer. But a true writer writes because they must put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) in order to think, to talk, to breathe. It’s a compulsion that is only satisfied when acted on. The more I write, the more I want to write.

    So I am a writer. Not a consistent writer or a confident writer or even a really creative writer. But I write because I want to and in some measure because I need to, so therefore I am a writer.

    Oh yeah, and I’m a cook too! Not a chef, but definitely a cook 😊.
    K-

    • Kristie ~

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. So much wisdom here. We need your voice, and I’m so glad you’ve contributed to the conversation.

      Funny how those fears come back to nip us time and time again, hey? And yet deep down we know that we ought not be afraid — yet it’s easier said than done. Thank you for your honesty in sharing the reality of those recurring fears.

      Love your observation that “true writers write regardless of whether there is an audience or not.” That whole paragraph above on your meditations of a true writer is so rich!

      Thanks again for sharing. Now … to make a plan so we can sit together in person, and you can cook for me while we chat about all the things! 😉

  10. Thank you Kate. How powerful for us to walk thru IDENTIFY first-that active verb of what we DO.

    I keep hearing GO, DO. GOD shows up when we GO, DO. O, that takes my breath away!

    Susan

  11. Ack, I already feel behind on this discussion group! Hopefully tomorrow I can actually write to link up and discuss a little more! 🙂 Because I kinda sorta really need this discussion group…. 😀

    And I love it when you talk about being a writer and completely encourage all of us to claim it.

  12. Hello friends,
    Oh how I’ve loved this discussion. its given me much to think about. I’ve written down parts of all of your discussion for further pondering and some of them I might even print out and post because several of them are deep reminders. i am particularly fond of what Charity said, “Not everyone needs to claim the identity of writer to make progress in their writing lives”…that gets rid of a bit of the fear of actually claiming the title of writer.

  13. Like Jen D. said, I feel like I’m already behind. My Kindle started acting up late last week, so I haven’t been able to download the book, or start reading it, but hoping to get that taken care of this weekend.

    Nonetheless, I’ve read through the previous comments and find myself intrigued by the idea of identity. This year I have thought a lot about the larger concept of identity. Who am I? Am I a writer? a teacher? a coach? a counselor? a daughter? a friend? a sister? an aunt? Yes, to all of them. How do I choose one? How do I find that one word that encompasses the whole picture?

    I wanted so much to put one label on myself, to have one box where everything fit. Then, I was introduced to the concept of a “portfolio life” and loved the idea. A “portfolio life” is one where all of who we are constitutes our identity and our calling in life. A “portfolio life” really encompasses several words that are our identity.

    It has taken me several years to be able to say, “I am a writer.” I was comfortable with “I am a journaler” but “writer” seemed to require published works and I had none. Or, at least a blog with many more followers than I have. As I processed the idea of a portfolio life, I was able to add “writer” as one part of my identity. It’s not all of who I am, but I could be comfortable with it as one part of who I am.

    So looking forward to being able to download the book and begin reading it!

  14. I struggle with identifying myself as a writer. Actually, this reminds me of the whole “am I a runner” debate, too! What makes a person a writer? What makes a person a runner?

    When people ask me about my running, I usually get a little rosy-cheeked and say, “Well, I’m not really a ‘runner’, I’m just a person who runs a lot!”. Same with writing. I feel uneasy calling myself a “writer” yet I sure write a lot!

  15. These are great thoughts.

    Hmmm. Why is it so dang hard to identify as a writer? I’m going to write down my hardships with this and respond with what I hear the Lord saying to me in response:

    • Maybe it’s because after working in the field of PR for many years, I’ve been a ghost writer—honing the talent of articulating other’s thoughts, emotions and tones—separating my own voice from the content I write.

    This is a season of sharing how God has revealed Himself in my life and therefore, a time to step out from behind the shadows of others.

    • Maybe it’s because what I’ve seen in some writers,not all, of course, are things I do not respect — highminded words from a spirit leaning towards the glint of the limelight or even shallow content and sometimes poor writing.

    But, the difference in any person’s life — those who write and those who don’t — is the degree to which we allow the Holy Spirit access to our lives. With the help of the Holy Spirit and surrender to His conviction, I don’t have to live as a slave to either pride or fear.

    • Maybe it’s because the enemy has lied to me so many times telling me I have nothing worthwhile to say.

    The enemy has come to steal my identity (all aspects), to kill my calling and to destroy the harvest that would come from obeying the voice of the Lord, even before the seed is in the ground.

    • Maybe because owning the label means owning the word, “failure.”

    “If God is for us, who can ever be against us.” –Romans 8:31

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