The Write Attitude: Quiet that Questioning Voice in Your Head

Jennifer ApplinBy Jennifer Applin

“I’m a freelance writer…well sort of.” When I first started my writing career this was the type of reply I gave when asked what I did for a living. I should have stopped after the word “writer”, but inevitably I’d follow up with “well sort of” in an apologetic tone. The truth was I didn’t feel like a writer yet and so declaring to be such made me feel like I was being deceptive and a fraud.

If you can relate to my inability to really own the statement “I’m a writer,” you may be letting your lack of confidence hinder your success. To quiet that questioning voice in your head that asks, “What are you doing!?!” make a list of everything a writer does. Your list should include tasks such as: brainstorm ideas, research markets, construct (bullets here?) queries, and time actually writing. You are most likely doing all of these things, and will soon reach the next level of getting published and making money. If you were to compare your writing related to-do list to that of an established writer you would see striking similarities. What does this mean? You ARE a writer, so it’s time to make that claim.

It took me a while to quit adding the “well sort of” at the end of my reply. What finally did it was when my daughter’s teacher mentioned, during a discussion on careers, my daughter told the entire class that her mother was a writer, even though I hadn’t been published yet. When the teacher asked if this was true, I just smiled and replied confidently, “Yes, I am.” If my daughter could stand up in her class and tell everyone that her mother was a writer then it was time for me to own that title. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” When it comes to a career in writing you need to change that to “If you say you’re a writer, you will be.”

Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer living in Ohio with her husband and four young children. She is a regular contributor to and writes for many regional publications. She spends her days cooking, cleaning and caring for little ones, and her nights writing about pregnancy, parenting, and the quest for peace (as in peace and quiet). You can also find her at Managing the MotherLoad.


2 Responses to “The Write Attitude: Quiet that Questioning Voice in Your Head”

  1. 1 Ginny February 8, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Oh Jen, I hear you! I usually tell people that I’m home with my kids, rather than get into the whole, “Well, where would I have seen any of your work?” questions. Um, you wouldn’t have, unless you work for one of several small corporations or have been sneaking around on my hard drive.

    My daughter, now 7, has just started to tell people “My mom’s a real writer,” so I’m experiencing the same thing as you – if she can claim it, I’d better claim it too. Now she talks about being a real writer like me, which I have to say I get quite a kick out of.

  2. 2 Besu February 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    I’m not even saying “I’m a writer… sort of.” I am like the other commenter – I go the safe route and say, “I’m just home with the toddler.” Part of that is my own lack of confidence, but the truth is that I don’t have “proof” that I am a writer. I have two novel manuscripts, and that’s it. I have sent out submissions to smaller markets, and maybe if I get acceptance somewhere I will feel like the title of Freelance Writer is legitimate.

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