The Secret Lives of Writers: They’re Closer Than You Think

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TheSecretLivesofWriters

Over the next couple of weeks, I am doing a short series called “The Secret Lives of Writers.” In several blog posts and in interactions through social media, I will be exploring what it means to identify as a writer, and why many, many people who write never do. Whether or not you are a writer, I hope this series will inspire you to consider your own ways of identifying yourself and how those identities shape your life and actions.

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Telling people I’ve cowritten a book about writing generally elicits three types of responses.

Those who don’t write kind of nod their hands, squint their eyes a bit, and try to decide if I’m kidding. “You wrote a book on writing?” one woman asked. “That’s genius!” From her response, I’m convinced she thinks it’s some type of pyramid scheme.

The writers I know get excited. Some applaud, some squeal. Most say they want to read it. A few say they need to read it. From the responses we are getting, a book about how to live a sustainable writing life really fits for a lot of them.

Then, there are the secret writers. I know them by the raised eyebrows, the hesitant second glance, the gradual lean in, and then the whispered confession: “I do a little writing,” or “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” or the wistful “I used to write.”

I love meeting these secret writers because in the space of one conversation, they stand a little straighter, their eyes develop a little twinkle, and as they walk away, I have a feeling they won’t stop until they get to their laptops.

At least that’s what I hope happens. That’s what often happened to me when I was still trying to navigate my way into a writing life. Every conversation, every nudge to keep (or start) writing, every invitation to submit, every “yes” to my work—even the small yesses from a friend or a blog reader or a family member—really mattered. They still do, in fact.

As we wrap up this series on The Secret Lives of Writers, I hope this post has been the nudge you need to get back to work, to move forward in your writing life. And I invite you to look around for the secret (or even not-so-secret) writers in your own life. Maybe your yes, maybe your nudge will be the encouragement they need to move forward in their writing life today.

Secret Writers—they’re closer than you think. Here are a few ways to reach out to them today.

  • Leave a comment on a blog post you appreciate.
  • Ask someone to guest post on your blog.
  • Write a note to someone who is discouraged about their writing life.
  • Write a note to an author whose book you’ve read. Even established writers need encouragement from time to time.
  • Help a secret writer you know find contests, magazines, or journals to submit their stories, poetry, or essays to.
  • Be a secret Santa to the writers in your life. Buy a copy of On Being a Writer to give to someone as a gift to encourage them to keep moving forward in their work.
  • Enter writers you know in the Not-So-Secret “Writing for the New Year” Giveaway using the form below. Through tomorrow, in addition to entering yourself by subscribing to my email list and sharing this post on Facebook, you can enter any other writers you know by sending me a message with their names.

LET’S DISCUSS: If you are a writer, what encourages you to keep going? How can you offer that same kind of encouragement to someone else today? When you tell people you are a writer, how do they respond?

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And this for you or a friend . . . 

TheSecretLivesofWritersGiveawayNew

Follow these links for a closer look at some of the items in the giveaway:

If you are already subscribed to the email list and aren’t on social media, just send me an email, and you’ll be entered, too! And remember, you can enter friends into the drawing by using this form:

Photo by Cindee Snider Re, used with permission.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.


  • Jolene Underwood (@Faith_Eyes) ,

    I love your series Charity. I also love the encouragement you provide for writers to write, even for those not ready to call themselves a writer. I’ve always hesitated saying I was a writer as well as doing the actual writing. I wanted to do it for so long but felt inadequate. Unfortunately I spent years under the premise that if you can’t do something substantially well, why bother. Now I write because I love it. I learn to write because I cherish the process & the way words bring stories to life and life to those in the midst of their own story. For years this line from a movie or some TV show has stuck with me, “If you wake up in the morning & the first you want to do is write, you’re a writer.” If you go to sleep thinking about writing, you’re a writer.” I’m a writer.

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      Charity Singleton Craig ,

      Jolene – Yes, you are a writer! I think a lot of us struggle to call ourselves a writer because of what we aren’t yet doing – being published, making money, writing full time. And a lot of us also struggle because what we want the writing life to be isn’t what we have yet. If we settle for calling ourselves “writer” now, maybe this is all we get. And I’m sure there are many more reasons. I think calling oneself a writer is the first step in really understanding what the writing life can be for a person. Thanks for your comment.

    • SImplyDarlene ,

      what encourages me are my inky fingers oh, i just tell people i’m a “ghost writer” and they get rather excited. then they start asking questions and i say i’m not at liberty to discuss any of it. 🙂

      since i write under a pseudonym it’s mostly true. plus, this way my introverted self stays safe and comfortable… behind a cloak of mystery and intrigue.

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        Charity Singleton Craig ,

        Darlene – I love this. You are living the secret life of a writer in ways I haven’t even touched one. You are like a covert operative, spreading the love of words from behind the curtain. You should get a trench coat and hat! And maybe a fake mustache!

        • SImplyDarlene ,

          ha. who says i don’t already?! 🙂

      • Cindee Snider Re ,

        Charity, I love the photo you chose. It’s one of my favorites. And I love that you chose to pair it with this post. Perfect! Such an honor. Thank you.

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          Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Cindee – Your photos seem perfectly taken to accompany my posts. It’s like our creative lives are joined in secret ways. Thank you for so opening sharing with me.

        • Becky Emerick ,

          Great post! Even though I’ve written stuff all my life, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I’ve started calling myself a writer, and that only hesitantly. I don’t know why that is. What have you found from others?

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            Charity Singleton Craig ,

            Becky – What an interesting comment and question. My hunch is that each of us have a preconception (maybe a misconception) of what a writer really is, and until we match our experience with that notion, we are reticent. Or maybe our culture holds out a stereotype, and we feel we fall short. I’m not sure exactly, but I totally understand the tendency to resist the title, even though its accurate. What do you think?