Saying "I'm a Writer" - The 6 Stages of Responses from Others


overcoming writer's block - crumpled paper on wooden floor - crushed paper

Telling people you are a writer is one of those admissions that is met with a mixed bag of responses. Some of us choose not to say anything at all when we first start writing. We keep it our little secret because we're worried about what people will think and our little dream is just too fragile to be picked on at that point. Then, when we do get up enough courage to start admitting it (this sounds like AA--My name is Roni, and I'm a writer), we often brace ourselves not knowing what to expect.


So I thought I'd share my experience so far with calling myself a writer.

The "I'm a Writer" Cycle

Stage 1: 

You write and don't tell people anything. You don't feel legit yet, so you don't feel comfortable admitting it to others. This way, if you fail, you have no one to answer to.

What others say: Nothing. 
What they really think: They don't know anything so they just assume you're a recluse who likes to be on your computer way too much.

Stage 2


You start to tell your close friends and family that you're giving this novel writing thing a try.

What others say: That's great! Good for you! *pats hand*
What they really think: What a fun hobby to keep him/her busy. 

Stage 3


You finish a book and move on to the querying stage.

What others say: Ooh, when will it be on the shelves? 
What they really think: They assume that since you actually finished a book, it's bound to end up a Barnes and Noble. I mean, writing a whole novel is the hardest part, right? Now you just need to get someone to print that puppy up.

Stage 4


Rejections roll in. You accept that this book isn't going to be the one and move on to write book two.

What others say: That's too bad. Maybe you should look into that dental hygiene program at the junior college. I've heard they make great salaries and have good hours.
What they really think: That you're wasting your time chasing a dream that's not going to happen. That you're a bit insane (doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result.)

Stage 5


You query book 3, 4, 5, whatever. You get an agent.

What others say: You hired someone to help you? That's nice.
What they really think: Poor girl is just throwing her money away. She just needs to move on and do something more practical.

Stage 6


You get a book deal.

What others say: Oh my God! When will it be on the shelves? I want a free copy! Are they going to make a movie about it? Will you do book signings? You're going to be rich and famous like Stephen King/JK Rowling/Stephanie Meyer! 
What they really think: Wow, she's living her dream. How'd she get so lucky?

Now, some of this is a little tongue and cheek, but not entirely far off from my experience. One thing I can say is that my husband and parents have been wildly supportive throughout. I think I have parents who if I said--I want to be an NFL quarterback, they'd probably tell me to go for it, lol.


But other people, in general, are both appalled and fascinated by those who go for an "impractical" dream. And it's a fine line between those two emotions. Think about it. Someone says "I'm going to Hollywood to be an actress". People think--"Flighty girl who doesn't want to get a real job."  She becomes the next Julia Robers. People say--"Oh, she is so amazing, so passionate about what she does" and hide in her bushes to snag a mere picture. It's ridiculous.

But here's my point about all this (yes, I have a point!):

People are going to think what they think. Don't let them decide how you feel about yourself or your writing. Being a "dreamer" is a beautiful thing and something we all should be proud of. We're the part of the population who refuses to settle, refuses to accept that what would make us happy is not achievable. We see daunting odds and try anyway. 

So published, unpublished, just starting out--it doesn't matter--wear that writer label with pride. There's no shame in being a dreamer. :)


So have you gotten any of the reactions I listed above? Do you tell others you're a writer? What's the best or rudest reaction you've gotten when telling someone you're a writer?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Dream On" - Aerosmith