You're a writer. Of course you are. What else could you possibly be? When it comes down to it, isn't that the part of your life that matters the most?
But adopting the wrong identity is incredibly dangerous. And, despite how innocent it might seem, branding yourself first and foremost as a writer might be damaging your mindset without you even realising it.
I have as much cause as anyone to call myself a writer. I write for work and for fun, producing 30k-40k words per week on average. What else would I call myself?
Three years ago, I started a freelance writing/editing business and published my first book. For two years straight, I immersed myself in this wonderful identity I’d always longed for: writer. Author.
And this year, I finally felt the consequences. Why?
Your identity determines what you're worth.
Think about that. If you base your whole identity on something that can change, then your worth can change.
I'll show you what I mean. Earlier this year, I struggled to find jobs. My most recent book wasn't getting great reviews like my others. I didn't feel like a good writer, so I began to feel my worth crumble. I dissolved into a worrying, self-doubting, depressing mess. I'd been putting so much effort into building up this identity and now it was completely falling apart. And because that one part of my life was falling apart, I began falling apart. Writing was my entire life, as far as I was concerned.
It took a few times for it to register, but after several talks, my husband finally got through to me and made me realise that I wasn't a failure just because this one part of my life wasn't going well at the time. He reminded me that I was more than just a writer; I was a wife, daughter, friend, cat mom, baker, reader, adventurer, and, most of all, a child of God.
I don't think I'm alone in adopting “writer” as my sole identity. We put our heart and soul into our craft. We spend so much time getting just one book right that it feels like our entire life is spent writing. On top of that, we take time to learn more about the art of writing.
Writing is hard, and it's personal. It feels natural to cling to it as our solid identity.
But it's not solid. Your writing will not always go well; what happens when you get writer's block or a bad review? Don't get me wrong, you can certainly still call yourself a writer (I do!), but claiming it as your whole identity and internalising that is a recipe for disaster.
But if this is you—if you find yourself in the very same boat I was in just a few months ago—how do you fix it?
Find an unchangeable identity. For me, it’s who I am in Christ. My identity in God will never change, and in fact, He’s the only thing we can absolutely count on not to change in this ever-changing world. No matter what happens in my life, no matter what I do wrong or right, I'm still held in God's hands and He still loves me.
Now, that's an identity I can depend on.
This isn’t a “one and done” deal, though. Your writing will try and take you over again and again, but when that happens, you have to cling all the harder to your true worth. I still struggle with this and sometimes don’t realise it until I’m feeling overwhelmed and unsure of everything I do.
But when I remember the truth of who I am, things change. My writing career has dips and successes, but I still have confidence in myself. My foundation is in something greater, something more solid than anything I could ever find on Earth.
Writers, let's take care of ourselves. Be proud of your craft, but don't depend on it. Don't make it everything you are.
You are you, a wonder of creation, and no one can tell you differently except for yourself.
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About the Creator
Ever since I could first form words and hold a pen, I've been telling stories - from the sloppily scrawled tales about getting ice cream with my exotic pets to full-blown sci-fi and fantasy epics. Soli Deo gloria!