How to Be Taken Seriously as a Writer

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by Kate Colby

So writing is your creative calling, your life’s purpose, your ultimate joy. Congratulations! You’re part of (in my totally unbiased opinion) one of the best groups of people in the world. You know it, I know it — and yet, your friends and family don’t.

After all, what’s so special about being a writer? Literally billions of people on the planet write every day. It’s a basic life skill, one of the first we learn. And as a career? Psh! You might as well steal a cardboard box from behind your local grocery store and get comfy on the street.

Let’s get this out of the way: writing is a viable career and meaningful task. Whether you do it professionally or for pleasure, you deserve to be taken seriously and to receive the same respect that other professionals or dedicated hobbyists receive.

That being said, there are ways to make it easier for your friends and family to take your writing seriously. Here are a few:

 

Write (and write regularly)

This may seem obvious, but you would not believe how many people I knew in college (myself included), who did more talking about writing than actual writing. That doesn’t work. You have to write to be a writer. Period. I know how to dive, and I enjoy doing so when the mood strikes and I happen to be at the pool. But I don’t go diving regularly. And I would never call myself a diver.

 

Once writing, call yourself a writer

Often, “aspiring” writers feel like imposters for calling themselves writers. Don’t. If you write regularly, enjoy writing, and intend to make writing a part of your professional or personal life, you are a writer. The sooner you embrace and use the label, the sooner your friends and family will, too.

 

Treat writing like a job

In order to finish a writing piece, you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. This means protecting your writing time. If you’re stuck at the office with a huge deadline and your friend asks you out to lunch, what do you do? Hint: you stay and get your work done, lest your boss fire you. If you want to make writing a career, you must be equally vigilant. When you make your writing a priority, others will see that it is, too.

 

Don’t play into “writer” cliches

There is this insane idea floating around the internet that writers are miserable. Like, we don our berets, pour a glass of whiskey, and slit our wrists over the keyboard. Is writing always fun? No. It’s actually pretty difficult work. But it also shouldn’t be torturous (if it is, you might look at a different field). There is no nobility in self-induced suffering. And if you exude misery to your friends and family, they’re not going to view you as “authentic.” If they care for your happiness, they’re probably going to encourage you to quit.

 

Don’t downplay your accomplishments

When a lawyer wins a trial, she doesn’t say, “Oh, yeah, I said some stuff and the bad guy went away.” When you finish a book, publish it, or receive a publishing contract, don’t be self-deprecating (but don’t be an asshole, either). Own up to your success, thank those who have supported you, and reach for an even bigger goal.

 

Be clear about your goals

If writing is a dedicated hobby, that’s fine. Call it that, and inform your loved ones exactly what you get out of it (satisfaction, stress relief, joy, etc.). If writing is your chosen career, explain your plans. Describe what kinds of books you intend to write, your publication plans, and where you see your writing business in five to ten years. If you are driven, logical, and enthusiastic (and can back up your dreams with action plans, facts, and figures), the people in your life will realize that you have thought this through and that writing is a viable life choice.

And if all else fails…let people think what they want. In the end, what matters most is how you view yourself. If you are happy and fulfilled as writer, if you know that your hobby or career is right for you, and you just plain love writing — that’s all you need.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Kate M. Colby. Kate is a writer of multi-genre fiction and creative nonfiction as well as a writing-craft blogger. Kate graduated summa cum laude from Baker University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Sociology.

 

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49 thoughts on “How to Be Taken Seriously as a Writer”

  1. Thanks for posting a great article. It’s difficult at times for family members to view another member as an author (even with multiple book/writing awards) when that “author” family member was nursing at the bedside for 27 yrs. What to do? Accept it and keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on UnheardSilver and commented:
    I wish my time and aspirations were taken more seriously by those around me. At times, I feel alone/unappreciated, especially when I request time for myself to write/try to stick to my schedule for writing and life in general. I’ve sacrificed a lot for my dream–no, my only PURPOSE in life, and everyone who has been around me KNOWS this…so why does it feel like it’s slowly becoming less and less worth it, as time goes by? Why does it feel like I’m doing something wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not that it’s very helpful … but just know that you’re not the only writer who feels this way. Writing is a difficult calling, and it’s even more difficult when others don’t understand us. As long as it still brings you joy, keep at it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this article. After publishing my book this summer, I am struggling with number one. I spend so much of my time and energy promoting and marketing my book that I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I should…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Finding the balance between writing, marketing, and other publishing duties can be extremely difficult, and it’s something I (and many other writers) still struggle with. If I find the secret formula, I’ll let you know! Lol. Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Like

  4. This was actually really helpful to me. Once I told my colleague at work that I was a ‘writer’. She really did stare at me with an expression of distaste on her face, and from her words and actions later I got the impression that she didn’t think I was, because I am working as a school teacher. But I do write daily, and I am working very hard on writing a book, so I think I have the right to call myself a writer, right? Well, the points you shared here were very positive and engaging. Thank you for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! You absolutely have the right to call yourself a writer. Just keep at it, and your coworker will eventually realize you’re serious. And if she doesn’t … well, it doesn’t really matter, does it?!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful article. It all started as a hobby and now has become a serious passion. Finished my first novel in JAN 2017, have plans to write 2 more in the series. Doing NANOWRIMO every year and cranking those out. I love writing. My family likes that I like doing it. Hopefully, my first book will show them I’m winning the war on words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fantastic! Congratulations on accomplishing so much in such a short time. It’s great that your family encourages your writing … now you can work on impressing them even further. 😉

      Like

  6. Reblogged this on judithlesleymarshall and commented:
    Having bumped into a few people lately who have asked me what I am doing now, the answer is I am still writing, but currently for pleasure rather than for publication or performance. Many of Katy’s comments in this post strike a chord with me. I hope they will with you also.

    Like

  7. Great piece. Very honest and straightforward. Particularly the section on downplaying your accomplishments. Many writers I know tend to feel like frauds despite being very active, skilled and motivated writers; they feel as though they don’t deserve the praise and success which they have rightfully earned. Perhaps this might be an affliction specific to creative arts? I agree that we need to own up to our successes and (eloquently) flaunt our achievements 🙂

    Like

  8. This was a very nice article. It was a good read even if I’m not a writer myself. I have several stories I would like to tell, but haven’t set out with any great conviction to get them typed out yet. One thing (and I apologize if I’m being a grammar/typo Nazi) I believe in your last sentence the 8th word should be ‘a.’

    Like

  9. Uplifting and inspiring article. Somebody has to do it! So few people think clearly so, in my opinion, we help them make sense of life. However, even as a 67 year old guy married for 32 years, sometimes I feel I need to still get a hammer and pound the table every few minutes so my wife things I’m really busy doing something constructive!

    Like

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