How to Be Taken Seriously as a Writer

writerSo writing is your creative calling, your life’s purpose, your ultimate joy. Congratulations! You’re part of (in my totally unbiased opinion) one of the best groups of people in the world. You know it, I know it — and yet, your friends and family don’t.

After all, what’s so special about being a writer? Literally billions of people on the planet write every day. It’s a basic life skill, one of the first we learn. And as a career? Psh! You might as well steal a cardboard box from behind your local grocery store and get comfy on the street.

Let’s get this out of the way: writing is a viable career and meaningful task. Whether you do it professionally or for pleasure, you deserve to be taken seriously and to receive the same respect that other professionals or dedicated hobbyists receive.

That being said, there are ways to make it easier for your friends and family to take your writing seriously. Here are a few:

Write (and write regularly)

This may seem obvious, but you would not believe how many people I knew in college (myself included), who did more talking about writing than actual writing. That doesn’t work. You have to write to be a writer. Period. I know how to dive, and I enjoy doing so when the mood strikes and I happen to be at the pool. But I don’t go diving regularly. And I would never call myself a diver.

Once writing, call yourself a writer

Often, “aspiring” writers feel like imposters for calling themselves writers. Don’t. If you write regularly, enjoy writing, and intend to make writing a part of your professional or personal life, you are a writer. The sooner you embrace and use the label, the sooner your friends and family will, too.

Treat writing like a job

In order to finish a writing piece, you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. This means protecting your writing time. If you’re stuck at the office with a huge deadline and your friend asks you out to lunch, what do you do? Hint: you stay and get your work done, lest your boss fire you. If you want to make writing a career, you must be equally vigilant. When you make your writing a priority, others will see that it is, too.

clicheDon’t play into “writer” cliches

There is this insane idea floating around the internet that writers are miserable. Like, we don our berets, pour a glass of whiskey, and slit our wrists over the keyboard. Is writing always fun? No. It’s actually pretty difficult work. But it also shouldn’t be torturous (if it is, you might look at a different field). There is no nobility in self-induced suffering. And if you exude misery to your friends and family, they’re not going to view you as “authentic.” If they care for your happiness, they’re probably going to encourage you to quit.

Don’t downplay your accomplishments

When a lawyer wins a trial, she doesn’t say, “Oh, yeah, I said some stuff and the bad guy went away.” When you finish a book, publish it, or receive a publishing contract, don’t be self-deprecating (but don’t be an asshole, either). Own up to your success, thank those who have supported you, and reach for an even bigger goal.

Be clear about your goals

If writing is a dedicated hobby, that’s fine. Call it that, and inform your loved ones exactly what you get out of it (satisfaction, stress relief, joy, etc.). If writing is your chosen career, explain your plans. Describe what kinds of books you intend to write, your publication plans, and where you see your writing business in five to ten years. If you are driven, logical, and enthusiastic (and can back up your dreams with action plans, facts, and figures), the people in your life will realize that you have thought this through and that writing is a viable life choice.

And if all else fails…let people think what they want. In the end, what matters most is how you view yourself. If you are happy and fulfilled as writer, if you know that your hobby or career is right for you, and you just plain love writing — that’s all you need.


How do you people in your life view your writing? How did you convince naysayers to take you seriously? Share your tips in the comments.

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Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips
53 comments on “How to Be Taken Seriously as a Writer
  1. Fantastic advice! I like to think it’s important to take yourself seriously as a writer but not too seriously.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 🙂 it is a long way to go… but time solves most rebus. 🙂 it is a long way to go… but time solves most rebus. But with the years I became a bit egotistical: first of all I write for myself, using my fantasy to create a “second” parallel reality… not necessarily violent of brutal one…
    I guess each one of us is able to write good stuff (indeed there are more writers than readers), and writing must be a pleasure not a violence to oneself. :-)c

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is great advice Kate. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim Kimber says:

    Nice to read this. I’m still at the stage where I cringe when my wife mentions I’m a writer, because, unpublished, I’m yet to really FEEL like a writer. One short story under the belt, however, and I’ll be stopping people in the street to tell them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unpublished or not, if you’re putting in the work, you should embrace the title! But I understand how you feel. I always get shy when my husband brings up my writing in public. Mostly because I never know how people will react to my being self-published. Learning to project confidence and “market” myself in those settings is a skill I’m still mastering.

      Like

  5. Kate Evans says:

    Good advice. I think it’s important to take myself seriously as a writer, because, quite frankly, if I don’t why should anyone else? It means giving space & time to writing, even when it feels like it is going nowhere, and keeping going even when the marketing gets me down…. Because if I write as well as I can and make one connection with a reader, that’s my job done!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post. Well said. I just had to put down what my job was recently and I hesitated to put author until my husband said, ‘If you don’t take your writing seriously, how can you expect anyone else to?’ So, I took the plunge and scribbled down, self-published author! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks, Kate, for this inspiring piece. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    For those of you that need encouragement, here is a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Some good points made in this post – you’re certainly more likely to be taken seriously if you write more than you talk about it.
    Most of my family and friends are supportive and encouraging. My mother isn’t, but then she never got over me not being a doctor.
    BTW, I love that ‘Become a writer’ meme – I never thought of myself as a cliche, but that image is depressingly familiar! You haven’t planted a camera inside my house, by any chance? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha never! But I don’t think you’re alone in that. And I’ve been guilty of the paper wads of doom, myself. Though, in my college days, I was more a fan of dramatic scribbling on the bathroom mirror in dry erase marker. Lol

      Thank you for reading! I’m glad to hear that most of your friends and family are encouraging. It’s always good to have a support network, and it helps temper the sting of those who aren’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Top post, you addressed key issues and the first part is especially pertinent, labelling ourselves a writer, loved the analogy of writers that dont write.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. L.D. Parker says:

    I can tell you that my novel didn’t kick into high gear until I committed to write everyday. I suppose it was then that my subconscious said, seeing I was being serious about the whole writing matter, that it was now finally willing to help me finish this novel. Stephen King was bang on in much of what he said in On Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed on both your points. Writing regularly is a huge help. There really is some kind of “muscle” that remembers how to just jump right back to the creative work. And On Writing is my favorite craft book. So many good nuggets in there!

      Like

  12. bfostrickson says:

    Reblogged this on Quoth The Wordsmith and commented:
    We all want to be seen as professionals, but with every Tom, Dick, and Harry claiming to be a writer, it can be difficult to stand out.

    Tips like these can help you to build your confidence and to write even better. Of course, as always, take the advice that makes sense for you, and leave the rest.

    What would you add to this?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wayne Halm says:

    Aloha Kate,

    I am a writer and I think it shows.

    To answer your question (How did you convince naysayers to take you seriously?) let me divide “naysayers” into two groups – “Them” and “Me”.

    I convinced the “Them” by writing stuff for them. Most people can write words, but few can arrange the words into understandable reports and articles. Yet their jobs require many to attempt just that. I helped them, looked at what they had, identified the focus, arranged the ideas in a logical order, choose a tone and held it, added some transitions, and got the pieces written. To a writer, this is simple – to someone who only writes, it is magic.

    Convincing the “Me” was more difficult. The fear of wasting my time grew with each rejection. Then an agent told me I needed a platform – I needed to blog. So I created http://www.kauaigolf.me and started posting simple stories, mostly about my job. Simple posts, but they are stories, I’m practicing my craft, and people seem to like them. Here is the BIGGIE – through WordPress statistics I now know that:

    “Everyday someone reads something I have written”

    Think about that – it convinced me that I am a writer.

    Kate, I hope this has answered your question and is of some value to someone.

    A Hui Hou (until next time),
    Wayne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Wayne. I know your comment has made some light bulbs light up for me. After all, what better way to show people that you are a writer than by doing what they cannot? And I love your revelation about WordPress – I know many self-doubting writers who will benefit from that simple concept. This platform really does make our writing available for readers worldwide, and having readers is a key part of growing as a writer!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Enjoyed this! Your piece gives me permission to claim to be a happy writer. I hike to write, and write to hike. Can’t do one without the other, but they both make me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s fantastic! (Though, you didn’t need me for that!) And it’s great to hear that you have two passions that feed into and inspire one another. It sounds like a perfect way to keep your creative batteries charged!

      Like

  15. ofopinions says:

    Ah Kate, it almost felt like you were telling me all this with a ruler in your hand! I needed to hear much of this, because I am guilty of much of this. Especially, the “aspiring” and self-deprecating part. Though, surprisingly, not the “misery” or the “people in my life”. I am very private about my personal aspirations, but I’ve had very little discouragement from people. On the contrary, even the few people who haven’t always liked me have sometimes said that I “can” write. People have criticized other things that are relevant, like not finishing writing projects or researching well enough, or things that are irrelevant, like my “background”.

    I am miserable about a number of things, but never writing. Writing engages me, excites me, clears my head. Yes, I get frustrated if I have a hard time putting a piece together, which is often, but that’s nobody’s fault. Things are never fun if they are too easy, i.e. boring. J.M. Barrie said “Life is a long lesson in humility.” The more I write, the more I find that to be true. Maybe writing will never be a full-time career for me. I’d be too lonely if it did come to be so! But, I’d do it even if it didn’t work out, even if no one wanted to read what I write. I don’t think such a day could possibly come when I find writing makes me miserable to the point of “not” doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a wonderful quote. I’m glad to hear that you have support for and enjoy writing. Those are both very important. Just remember to not be too hard on yourself. We are always our toughest critics, and often, unfairly so. The best thing you can do is stay positive and have faith in yourself. You’re better than you give yourself credit for.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. […] Source: How to Be Taken Seriously as a Writer | Kate M. Colby […]

    Liked by 1 person

  17. jademwong says:

    Great post and extremely well said!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Suaylia says:

    Thanks for this. Great advice. 🙂
    I think the whole keep on writing is so on point.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Moumita says:

    Your post is exactly to the point.I have always enjoyed reading and writing. But almost forgot about it due to various reasons(and I blame myself for this). These days I have started writing again in my new blog. I have realised this makes me feel happy. I haven’t been this much interested in doing and anything else for a long time .

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Joanna says:

    Love the part about treating writing like a job, I’ve been implementing this into my day and have been getting more work done. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. theryanlanz says:

    Hi Kate! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post on http://www.ryanlanz.com on Feb 20th. As usual, it has your credit/bio/link. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. jamjar77 says:

    Youre right, the secret is to keep at it.

    Liked by 1 person

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