When can you call yourself a writer?

I wrote my first poem when I was six. The day I wrote my first poem was the day I decided I wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing on and off ever since, first in my native Portuguese and eventually in English as well.

It is not all poetry, though. I write poems, flash-fiction, short stories, and articles. I’m working on my first novel. And I work as a translator and copy-editor because a girl’s gotta eat.

Prolific as I am, I’m still unpublished (if you read my Ten To One post you know this is about to change), and this got me thinking: When can you call yourself a writer? Who decides? What is a writer?

Well, let’s start with that last question. To me a writer is someone who writes. That’s it. Writers write. So, if you want to be a writer, write! Not tomorrow, today. Not just today, everyday.

“Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.”

Ernest Hemingway

If you want to be a writer, start writing. (Yes, it is that simple!)

If you want to be something, anything, start being it.

That is the point of this beautiful video – Creativity and Talent – by rosiefromthepast. She was inspired by another great video – Thoughts on the Creative Career – by performance artist,  composer, humorist and public speaker Ze Frank. Go watch them, they are awesome.


It is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. As Hemingway put it, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou


“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”

William Faulkner


You can call yourself a writer when you see fit. You decide. Whether that will be when you finish your first novel, when you get published for the first time, or when you commit yourself to writing – it’s up to you.

Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer because you are not published, or famous, or because you think others will not take you seriously. Take yourself, and your craft, seriously (not too seriously, though).

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

Amanda Palmer’s Publish It Forward talk – Connecting The Dots – at Grub Street’s Muse and Marketplace Conference is simply marvellous. She addresses several of these questions (and others) in an open and honest way. Watch it here.

(And if you still haven’t seen her TED talk – The Art of Asking – you can watch it here)

And don’t forget:

“Anything you write in any format can change somebody, can change an opinion, can scratch an opening in a scarred up heart of a human being – and it doesn’t matter how you do it.”

Amanda Palmer


“Be humble for you are made of Earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”

Serbian proverb

“Writing is its own reward.”

Henry Miller


5 thoughts on “When can you call yourself a writer?

  1. Pingback: Umi Says Shine Your Light on The World** | Men [Myself] & God

  2. Pingback: Inspire Better Writing: 5 Wise Quotations | Write and Get Paid

  3. When did I start calling myself a writer (without feeling like a fraud)? When people started emailing me about how my writing had affected them in some way. And then some people even started paying me. So now I’m a PROFESSIONAL writer. But I still have moments of insecurity, because no way have I reached my goals yet, and I have to remind myself–“If people pay you to write, you’re a professional. Stop doubting.” I’m working on it…

    • Thanks for sharing, Crystal!
      I think knowing your writing has reached, touched, or affected people somehow is the most rewarding part of doing what we do.
      And I wonder… Is it a writer thing or a human thing to feel so insecure (at times) about who we are and what we do?
      Let’s keep working on it.

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