You may call yourself a writer, but are you really a writer? Writers have the habit of writing. Do you write consistently every day or week?
Are you a writer?
Or do you like to call yourself a writer when, in fact, you write sometimes…rarely…sporadically…when you feel like it…or hardly ever?
How to Become a Writer
To become a writer, you must first be a writer.
I realize that may sound like the chicken before the egg. And you are probably thinking, “If I write, then I’ll be a writer.”
In fact, when you decide to be a writer, you will write. Why? Because that’s what writers do.
No…I’m not taking you in circles. I’m talking about identity because identity leads to action.
Be a Writer First
Most aspiring writers think having a career as an author, blogger, or journalist requires writing skill, time, or a great idea. When they have one or more of these things, they will write, and eventually, they become writers.
In other words, they must first have something so they can do something and then be something. That’s backward.
The more effective method is to first be something—in this case, a writer. When you adopt the identity of “writer,” you will do what a writer does—write habitually. And then you will have a career as a writer. (You’ll also have time to write, develop skills, and lots of ideas.)
Identity leads to action—even writing daily. In the process of doing what a writer does, you create results—written work.
Doing Before Being
It is possible to do first. You can start writing consistently, develop the habit, and then feel like and call yourself a writer. I have had clients do this.
I recall one woman declaring, “I’m a writer!” Previously, she had insisted she was not a writer and had struggled to write consistently.
“What’s changed?” I asked.
“I am writing daily. You always told me that writers write. Now I write, so I’m a writer!”
Indeed, she was…for a while. And then she stopped.
Her identity as a writer was tied to the action or doing of being a writer. Had she worked from identity first—“I’m a writer.”—she would have continued writing every day.
Why? Because that’s what writers do. As a writer, she would write.
I’m NOT a Writer
I’ve considered myself a writer since I was in middle school…maybe earlier. I pursued writing as a career and am known for saying, “Even though I’m a coach and speaker, I’m a writer first.”
But last year, I had to be honest with myself. I was no longer a writer. My identity had shifted to coach and online business owner, and my actions had followed suit. I mostly spent my time coaching, marketing my business, and figuring out how to make money from my courses and programs.
Other than my blog posts, which I deemed required writing, I wasn’t writing. The book ideas I so wanted to pursue remained ideas—lightbulbs glowing dimmer with each passing month.
I realized that the only way to develop a writing habit again was to change my identity back to “writer.”
Once I decided to be a writer, there was no question about what I had to do every day. I had to do what writers do…write.
So I blocked off time in the mornings for writing. Clients could not schedule appointments at this time, and I didn’t schedule other things during this time either.
Each day, after my morning routine, I sat down to write. Specifically, I worked on a book project.
After all, that’s what successful and prolific writers do…they write daily at the same time no matter what. They have a writing habit.
I also began approaching my blog posts differently. I didn’t see them as just required writing. I considered them another opportunity to write…and publish…my work. As such, they felt less like a chore and more on purpose and joyful. Additionally, I was able to get back to writing them to be of service to my readers.
I counted the words I wrote for a manuscript and blog posts in my daily word count. This affirmed that I was, indeed, writing every single day.
Choose Your Identity
The key to developing a writing habit lies in your identity. And you can choose your identity. If you want a writing habit, select the identity of a writer—or even an author. Then show up daily doing the things a writer would do.
I teach members of the Inspired Creator Community this strategy. It’s amazing to watch how quickly they go from non-writers to writers. Before they know it, they have a writing habit, and they continue writing long term.
Develop Your Writer Identity and Writing Habit
Here are five steps you can take to cement your writer identity and develop a writing habit.
- Write a description of a writer, blogger, or author. Include information on their mindset, daily activities, schedule, commitments, character, values, and life in general.
- List the writing-related activities of a writer, blogger, or author. These might not all involve writing but could include speaking, platform building, or revising.
- Now, take this information and turn it into a description of your new identity. You can even call this your alter ego and give it a name. Be sure to include the same sort of information you included in steps 1 and 2 above. Pay particular attention to the daily writing-related activities.
- Decide right now that when you wake up tomorrow, you will embody your new identity. As a result, you will do the things you described—including writing.
- Repeat the doing part of being a writer consistently.
If you take these five steps and repeat steps 4 and 5 every day, you will soon have a writing habit. You’ll also show up every day as a writer.
Don’t Fall Back Into the No-Writing Habit
Your mind will try to keep you stuck where you are—not being a writer. It will give you tons of reasons to continue not writing.
If you listen to that voice in your head, you will quickly fall back into your no-writing habit. Or you may never leave that habit behind.
But you can stop listening to that voice that says, “Write tomorrow. You don’t have time to write today.” (Or whatever else that voice tells you.) You can dismiss it and write.
How? When you notice the voice telling you not to write today…when you feel that urge to be complacent, distracted, lazy, or to prioritize something else…stop. Then take a deep breath, and say to yourself or aloud, “I am a writer. Writers write.”
Then, move your attention to your writing project. Think about what you plan to write or your fantastic book, article, or blog post idea.
Finally, sit down at your computer and write.
When you are done writing, reaffirm, “I am a writer. Writers write.”
Be a writer. Every. Single. Day. If you do, you’ll have a writing habit in no time.
Do you have a writing habit? How did you develop it? Tell me in a comment below, and please share this post with someone who would really love to write consistently.
Would you like to write and publish nonfiction work, like articles, blog posts, books, or reports…and become a successful author? Join the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Get the basic education you need and the Author Coaching to help you succeed as a nonfiction writer. Enjoy a 30-day trial membership for only $1. If you’ve felt the desire to get coached and be supported as you pursue authorship, this program is for you.