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When Can You Call Yourself A Writer?


Chuck Sambuchino offers his opinion in two phases (emphasis his):

When can you call yourself a writer in private?

Now. Absolutely right now.

Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.

Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. I remember reading somewhere that Robert De Niro will sometimes repeat his lines dozens of times before filming a scene, in an effort to make himself fully believe what he’s saying. That’s your goal: say it, then say it again until you believe it.


When can you call yourself a writer in public?

The answer to this question is also now – but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. If you start telling people that you’re in the middle of a novel, then you darn well better be in the middle of a novel.

I usually call myself a writer in public just to imply that I like to write. I don't really know how else to go about explaining it, lol xD


Felis amatus
If you write, you're a writer.

If you'd like to write, but don't get around to it, you're not :)

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
I am a writer before I am anything else - a woman, a human, a sentient being (that only counts before the caffeine kicks in).

I'll be an author when I hold a book/e-book with our name on the title page that people are paying money to read.

Philip Overby

Article Team
Some people call themselves aspiring writers if they don't feel like they've done "enough" to call themselves writers.That's fine. The distinctions I've always made are the following:

1. Aspiring writer-someone who wants to write, but never does and just talks about it a lot
2. Writer-anyone who writes anything (most of us here would be classified as writers since we've written something and continue to write)
3. Pro writer/author-someone who writes and makes money from it, they may not necessarily only make their living from it, but some income is derived from writing

At some point, I could have been considered a pro writer since I was getting paid for articles. Was I a successful pro writer? Not really by my standards.

The problem with this "what do I call myself" thing usually has to do with other people saying "You can't call yourself a writer unless..." There was an article a while back that incensed Chuck Wendig because it was someone basically saying "don't call yourself a writer unless you're doing/have done the following things."

Those who do, are. So do it and be. :)


I am writer and have always been. I claim it with a proud heart and feel its the essence of who I am as a person. When people ask why I only work 3 days a week, I say its because I spend the rest of my time writing.
I'm a writer and am always proud to say so...mind you, I used to feel a tad diffident about it before I was published and would probably qualify it somehow, depending on the audience. I've noticed a slow transition in the way people describe me these days. In the past, friends might have somehow implied inverted commas if they used the word writer to describe me. Those inverted commas are now gone (after two paperbacks and one ebook published). Even better, work colleagues (and even senior management where I work) refer to me as the resident novelist and make a bit of a fuss about it from time to time. This is very cool as I had been worried about how the work world and the literary world could coexist. Fairly seamlessly so far.

C Hollis

I never really considered myself a writer until I had the nerve to submit my first work. But, that's just how I viewed myself. If I meet someone, and they say they are a writer, then they are a writer as far as I'm concerned. I don't try to apply some presumptuous list of requirements to the term.

I am a dreamer, a writer, an author, and an antagonist to the people inside my head (or is it the other way around?).
Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If you want to feel like you're a writer, then 1) you'd better be writing and 2) feel free to call yourself a writer.

If you're trying to impress people, then I don't know why on earth you'd ever tell anyone you're a writer. ;)


I admit I've never cared for the term "aspiring writer". Whether you write with the intent of being published or as a hobbyist, then you're a writer. I do think it's important, however, that if you're looking to be published it's especially important to get yourself in the professional mindset of being a writer or an author, by calling yourself one at once. Perspective is everything in this business.


There are some awesome responses here. Margret Weis once told me during a meet and greet, "if you write, you are a writer".
I can say that MANY people write better than I do. Am I a writer? Yes. But I am in awe of those who wield words with mastery and fluidity. To be honest, I would love to be considered a respectful writer. But today I'll settle for a decent story teller. ;)

Caged Maiden

Article Team
Yeah, I feel weird about this question, too. I meet a lot of "writers" in real life.. and they're what I (unfortunately) call "dreamers". They'll never finish anything and never try to learn the skills necessary to actually share their work. I was one of those for about 13 years. I was a writer for me. However... while I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that, because not everyone has the desire to hone their craft or publish, or whatever (let people write for themselves if they want to!), I can't really say that's what I am anymore... yet there's no other word. So I'd call myself an aspiring writer, but... it doesn't feel right. And author definitely isn't right. I say I write fantasy novels, if people ask. Don't know whether that's appropriate, but I don't ever deceive and say I am published, because I'm not.

I ran into this before, with my sewing business. Historically, a seamstress is the woman who makes your shirts, underwear, caps, etc. A tailor is the person who makes your doublet, gown, trunkhose, etc. While I do employ the techniques of draping and tailoring, it doesn't fit in a modern sense because "tailors" make men's suits. I'm certainly not that. So... I proudly call myself a costumer. I'm not a seamstress, because any woman who buys a simplicity pattern and makes a dress out of modern cloth (with no regard to research and historical accuracy) can call herself a seamstress, but I'm a professional costumer. I have done this 18 years and I make museum-quality work. I'm definitely not a seamstress.

However, writing is a little weird for me, because I'm not professional with it. So... I vote we need a new word! I nominate "Mythic Scribe". :) No seriously, we need a new word for those of us somewhere between "dreaming" and "published author".
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