Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself a Writer

The Internet Creators Guild, only a week old, has already changed my life.

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In the past year, my life has changed a lot. I’ve gone from feeling sad about not being able to find a job to writing as close to full time as I’ll be able to get while I’m still in school. I stopped talking about all the things I wanted to do (for the most part) and just started doing them. I have a podcast (sign up for our newsletter for links to new episodes every month) and I published an ebook and I finally figured out how to balance writing for free with writing to pay the bills. I’m not feeling sad anymore.

That last part is mostly because I’ve finally figured out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. At least, more specifically than before.

Amidst the various transformations my career has gone through, I’ve joined a lot of writing groups and have started to talk and collaborate with more and more people just like me – people on the internet who like creating stuff. Something I’ve found is that there seem to be two kinds of creative people out there: people who want to publish their work, and people who want to create.

Aren’t those two things the same? I don’t think so. I think people who want to publish their work are those who call themselves writers – and they are great people. They are ambitious and always know how to ask the right questions. They are determined to meet their end goal.

I used to think I was one of them. But it turns out I’m not.

There were two reasons I wanted to publish an ebook this year. The first, and most important, was that I wanted to share my thoughts on story development and writer-character relationships with people who nerd out about that stuff as much as I do. But the second was more personal.

I wanted to test out, I guess you could say, how publishing something would make me feel.

Because for years now, I’ve always said that was what I wanted to do. Publish something. So I did it. It was a great experience, and I’m going to continue doing it. I am, technically, a published author.

But my suspicion, in publishing that book, was confirmed. Being able to call myself an author – being able to say I worked as a professional writer, and mean it – did not give me the sense of fulfillment I had once believed it would. Don’t get me wrong – I’m proud of what I’ve done. I worked hard and the entire process made me feel good. But there are people who will do that, and only that, for the rest of their lives. Those people will be living out their dreams.

Publishing a book – being part of this group of people called ‘writers’ – is not the only thing I want.

When people ask me what I do, I say I’m a freelance writer. Whatever they picture in their minds is up to them. I am, and will always be, someone who writes. But very recently I took what I consider to be a pretty big step in my career: choosing a different label. One that I hope to at some point be able to use to more accurately describe what it is I actually do with my life.

Last weekend I joined the Internet Creators Guild, which is a brand-new organization that supports and brings together people who make stuff on the internet (started by my favorite internet person, Hank Green). I have since changed a few of the bios on my personal social media profiles to say “internet creator.” I still label myself as a writer when I’m asked professionally, because that’s a much easier way to explain what I do. But as I’ve mentioned before, writing isn’t all I do, nor does it fully represent everything I want to do in the future.

Calling myself an internet creator is a much more accurate title for me, and maybe a lot of you out there, too. It represents everything I currently do and hope to do more of someday. It satisfies the part of me that needs to be doing more than just one thing. It doesn’t make me feel trapped into one profession or group, as I once feared becoming a writer would do.

I’m more than just a writer. I am a person with ideas I want to use to help other people and make the world a better place. No matter the channel I use to turn those ideas into something tangible, it’s what I want to spend every day of my life doing. I don’t write because I want to be a writer. I write because it’s part of me. But not all of me. Not even close.

To call myself a writer is basically saying I’m just one thing. But fans of The Limit Does Not Exist podcast will already know that some people simply cannot live happily being one thing. I am proud to be a human diagram. I am proud to be able to blog here every day and not feel like it is consuming my life in a negative way. I am proud to be who I am. Finally.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

4 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself a Writer

  1. That’s awesome you found your passion =) For me, I totally want to be called a writer and author, and I’m ok with doing only one thing. I do like to draw and create graphics, but I don’t think I’m skilled enough to do it for a full-time job or anything. Enjoy creating things and posting them online. I’ll be sure to check out your stuff.

    1. :) You know what I think? I think we all need that one thing we do for fun. For you it’s graphics, and that’s totally awesome!! Sometimes I like my hobbies simply because there’s no pressure. If I totally mess something up – oh well, at least I had fun!

  2. Great article, I can totally see that a title is important, it allows you to have purpose, to have an identity. I, however, am not into the idea that I want to “be” a writer, as much as I want to write the story, or stories, that bounce around in my head. I am fine with not having a label of any kind, but, when I sit down and consider, I would much rather go with “creator” than writer.
    I am not sure I could write professionally, especially freelance, where I don’t dictate the content. My hats off to you for being able to do that, but also, my hats off to you for being able to see what it is you want. I love your articles, because they allow my to change direction at times or confirm what I am doing, either way, they are most helpful in my being able to put my thoughts to paper.
    I used to want to be called an Architect, went to school, graduated at the top of my class, got bored with it and decided to go out and build what I drew. That, for me, had more purpose, was more fulfilling. I am not an Architect, or even a contractor, or carpenter, I am a creator, a person who imagines, then draws, (plans) out, then builds. That is who I am.
    Now, I sit behind a desk, for the purpose of supporting my family, but, after hours, I create, I build and I write. I don’t even know how to label that.

    1. This comment makes me so happy! I’m not one for labels, not usually, but I also come from a family of “professionals” – architect, dentist, nutritionist, etc. – so while a title doesn’t matter, it helps to have one ready when asked what I’m “up” to. I think creating for the sake of creating is the best way to go. Many of us have office jobs by day and create freely by night – and I admire YOU for being able to do THAT. Everyone has their way of doing it and routine that works. Creation can’t really be put into a box, so “creator” of any kind is the title that explains it the best.

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