[The Writer's Life] I am a Writer

Why do we do it?

Why do we put ourselves through the misery, which we ourselves create, day after day, year after year?  We don’t have to be writers. We could simply be moms, partners, baristas, teachers, social workers, clerks, raising our children--or not having children at all--be good community members, make a good living, be nice to animals, and stop at all railroad crossings.

But do we allow ourselves to do that? No. Most of us have been at this for decades, emerging (as writers) through first diaries and early English assignments. We held the pen in our hands and our fingers melded around it and we couldn’t let go. Assignments varied, diaries filled up, and pens dried out, and we sought out more paper, more ink, more time. We were (writers) after the math homework was done, after dinner was cleaned up, after the laundry was folded.

The tales of Writers who woke up at 4am to write or rocked baby with one foot while balancing the laptop on her knees are the stuff of legends. During my single-parent days, I tried to get up at dawn, before breakfasts and showers and carpools. It didn’t work. Dawn is meant for REM sleep, and who was I to argue with physiology? But is it just finding the time? Is that the problem?

One recent assignment for the writing class I facilitate for the local branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute was to write about the challenges we face in finding time to write. Although I don’t always write with the class, I took the rare opportunity to write a little about it myself. As usual (and this is what I love about free writes), a bit came out that I hadn’t really intended to write. The biggest challenge I have to overcome as a writer? Me. 

I realized I have plenty of time in the day, even on days when I think I’m busy. I live in an empty nest, except on Wednesdays when I babysit my grandson. I have a job and a couple of volunteer activities, but I’m able to manage them in a reasonable amount of time. I’m not that disciplined about my time (just ask...well, almost anyone with whom I’ve ever been acquainted) but I should be able to find 10 to 15 minutes each day to write, right? I’ve spent more time than that on drugstore.com looking for shampoo and conditioner. I have time in the morning and afternoon, and at night, but I’m always too late, hungry, or tired then. So, it’s really not a lack of time. I could write sitting on the toilet if I had the forethought to have a notepad and pen on the back of the tank. So, if time is not the problem, what is?

I can’t say I know this for everyone, but I think, for me, it’s believing that I have the right to call myself a Writer and do what Writers do: write.

And now I’m back to speaking for many of us: How do we do that? How do we contort ourselves into the role of Writer in the midst of our lives, our choices, our realities, and our dreams? Do we do it in a box? Do we do it in our socks? (Clearly, my grandson is of an age where we read a lot of Dr. Seuss.) If writing is something I believe in and I believe I can do, then I don’t necessarily have to have a schedule (although some Writers do) or a goal (although I hear that’s a good idea). I don’t have to rise with the sun to write. I just have to be a Writer and write.

It took me years to refer to myself--out loud, in front of people--as a Writer. I would say “I write a little” or “I like to write,” but I could never summon the nerve to tell someone to their face, “I am a Writer.” I balk at it still. But I do it. And that's the biggest hurdle I’ve overcome--that I know I’m a Writer and I don’t have to shush it anymore.

“Hello, nice to meet you. I'm Cindy, and I'm a Writer.”


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  • Thea Constantine

    God that's true isn't it? Bakers don't torture themselves, or locksmiths. Poor Writers!

  • It is a struggle, even though we are all writers! Who else has this kind of trouble? Not chefs, not police officers. I often explore this struggle in my writing even as I experience it! It's like a Catch-22! 

  • Thea Constantine

    I really think we need to give ourselves that credit. I just think---if we don't then why would someone else? Even if if feels weird at first--which it usually does....

  • B. Lynn Goodwin

    Of course you have a right to call yourself a writer. A writer is someone who writes. You qualify. So do I.


  • Tammy Backlund

    The first time I submitted a manuscript I was published. Do I continue to write or call myself a writer? No! What the heck?

  • Lisa Hamer

    It is good to know that others struggle with the whole writing thing.  I mean none of us are alone in this quest...I feel like the more pressure I put upon myself, the less I can write...But when I take a step back my soul connects with my pen and I become a writer....Otherwise I just "write a little" 

  • Julie Luek

    Just saying it is heavy with expectations that can be tough to accept. But once we give ourselves that permission and allow our souls to acknowledge it, oh what a sweet relief. :)