Why It Took a Year to Say “I’m a Writer”

Jeremy Sutton, PhD
Apr 14 · 3 min read

Writing comes first, then it takes time to recognize who you’ve become

Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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.

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).

Interested in learning more about mental wellbeing?

Click here to find out about mental fitness 101.

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Jeremy Sutton, PhD

Written by

Psychologist in Human Performance. Writing about positive psychology and the science of mind to better understand human potential. Owner Explorethelimits.com

CRY Magazine

(Creat)ivity + (E)motion | A Medium Publication for Creatives Navigating Emotions

Jeremy Sutton, PhD

Written by

Psychologist in Human Performance. Writing about positive psychology and the science of mind to better understand human potential. Owner Explorethelimits.com

CRY Magazine

(Creat)ivity + (E)motion | A Medium Publication for Creatives Navigating Emotions

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