When Can You Call Yourself a “Writer”?

In speaking with many publishing hopefuls, bloggers, and other folks who dabble in writing, I often hear them question whether they can truly call themselves “a writer.”

They all write words on a page or on a computer.

Some have quite a few readers on their web sites.

And yet, they hesitate in calling themselves “writers.”


Because they haven’t published in magazines or they haven’t published books. They just think of themselves as word tinkers.

I used to think the same of myself before I published a book. At the time my only writing credit was an online magazine and a defunct humor magazine. Then someone said in an E-mail, “You’re a writer. Now you just need someone to pay you for it and some fame.”

It was a jarring comment. I’d built my identity as a writer around external sources of validation, namely money and popularity.

Here’s the thing, having published in several magazines, several books, and online over the past five years, I can just about guarantee you’ll never think you have enough money or popularity to call yourself a writer because there will always be someone with more money and more readers.

While there are good writers and writers who have a long way to go before they’re good, perhaps the matter of calling yourself a “writer” rests more with the individual. Do you personally believe you can call yourself a writer based on the work you do?

Forget money.

Forget fame.

Do you write seriously? Do you care about the words you put on the page? Is your writing an important part of who you are?

If you can answer yes to questions such as these, then you probably are a writer. Very few writers go on to make a lot of money or to become household names, so just focus on loving what you do, put your best into it, and savor every time a reader shares positive feedback about your work no matter how you publish it.

Writing is about crafting words for readers. Set goals for yourself, but never confuse legitimate writing with the side benefits of money and popularity.

4 thoughts on “When Can You Call Yourself a “Writer”?

  1. I so struggle with this! I struggle with it personally about wanting to be a writer and and a speaker. I also struggle with it in the call my husband and I feel we have to full-time ministry. When can we call ourselves pastors. I think there are so many areas of life where we don’t feel justified in taking on a title until someone else validates it in us – whether through money, notoriety or other means. It’s like we’re not legitimate until someone pays us to do it. This post was a real encouragement to me!


  2. Thanks Melissa. I love the title of your blog by the way. It’s a good title for a writer’s blog. 🙂

    Thanks also for sharing your struggles here. I know these are not easy things to write. If I can encourage you in your ministry at the same time as I’m encouraging you to keep up the good fight with writing, you can only serve with the gifts God has given you in the place where he has you. So if you focus on finding out what he wants you to do and then remain faithful, then you’re in good shape.

    If you have the pastoral gifts and do pastoral work wherever you are, regardless of position, then you are a pastor. That is something God has been beating into my head over the past 7 years, and I trust I’ll need another 7 before I’m actually comfortable with it!


  3. Very true. I read a post recently that said a person should not consider themselves a writer unless they have put in considerable time and sacrifice in the pursuit of writing. I don’t buy that. I had someone write a guest post for me yesterday who has only be writing for a short amount of time, but I have no doubt she is a writer. The money thing? Because I’ve been involved in helping promote a first time novelist for the past 18 months, I understand that being able to make a living at writing is a long shot at best. But that doesn’t mean you should ever give up.


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