It took a year of writing full time before I dared call myself a writer. After all, it’s not a proper job. It’s something other people do. Isn’t it?
Yet, like many others, when my job finished early in the pandemic, I had to find another way to pay the bills. So I made the jump. I took it as an opportunity to do what I had always wanted — write full time.
I fell on my feet, finding a freelance role with a company that needed plenty of well-researched, evidence-based psychology articles. It was a dream. Finally, I was using my studies and my interests to fuel my passion.
Yet, I still thought of it as a hobby. I felt a little guilty. After all, this wasn’t a 9 to 5 job, with endless Zoom calls and a boss looking over my shoulder. But I continued, improving the content I was providing and speeding up my output.
I existed in a bubble. I was researching, writing, and making changes based on my editor’s feedback. The company I was writing for, their audience, and my editor were all in different countries, so we communicated online.
But I continued to feel isolated — cut off from a community. I needed to share more of who I was and what I was doing with others.
Telling others you are a writer may be the start to believing you are one.
The process began with me gingerly posting links to my articles on LinkedIn. It would mean my ex-colleagues would see what I was up to now; they would identify with a new me. I wondered what they would think.
Would they ask themselves, why couldn’t he get a proper job?
But I started to get positive feedback from my posts. Both from people I already knew and those further afield and previously unknown. I made contacts in Australia, the US, and Europe. Readers were keen to hear more about who I was and what I was doing.
Yet, still, I felt like an imposter. I wasn’t a writer. I don’t sit and ponder the next chapter to my 1000 page novel at 2 p.m. with a glass of brandy. Well, not yet, anyway.
But I write about psychology and mental health. I’m interested in how to overcome obstacles, work to our strengths, and feel good. And I believe that’s important.
It’s been a year now. And I haven’t stopped. I’m up early, writing every morning before the house wakes. Unlike before, I now walk my daughter to and from school. I hear her stories and what she has learned that day. The old me would have been sitting in traffic, looking at my watch, balancing (and spilling) lukewarm coffee as I drove.
On the walk back from one such school drop-off, one of the other parents asked what I was up to now. Without thinking, I said it: “I’m a writer.” I felt stunned to have stated it so clearly, rather than hiding behind phrases like “I am writing a few online articles,” playing it down, like it wasn’t worthwhile.
It felt good; I had moved on. I was unashamed of my past, proud of my present, and looking to the future.
Telling others you are a writer may be the start of believing you are one.
And that’s me. I’m a writer (there I’ve said it again).
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