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.


I was a writer long before I told people.

Funny how we take these big dreams of ours and hold them close to the vest, afraid to tip our hand for fear someone will call our bluff. For years, I was holding a royal flush, but I played like the deck was stacked against me.

Eventually, I started telling people about writing, but I still didn’t claim “writer.” Not for years. On the outside, I looked like a church secretary or residence director or a data analyst. But on the inside, I was living the secret life of a writer.

Maybe you have a secret life like this, too. In the evenings and weekends, when other people turn on the television or pull out their knitting, you quietly open the laptop and spill out your heart. During the holidays, your Christmas letter isn’t just “newsy;” it’s poetry. Every time you go to Office Max or Staples, you come home with bags of pens and paper. And when others see you rushing to the mailbox or constantly checking your email, they don’t know you are waiting to hear back from the publisher you just submitted your work to.

In our book, On Being a Writer, Ann Kroeker and I begin chapter one with a discussion of our identities as writers. Not that we have to call ourselves anything particular at all to do the work of writing. My writing life quietly developed for years without any such label. But somehow, this process of identifying myself as writer gave me permission and confidence to move ahead into the life of a writer and eventually into a full-time career as a writer and editor, too.

Do you write or have you ever wanted to? Even if you’ve never thought of pursuing writing as a career, is there a part of you that needs to put words down on paper or screen in order to process life and the world swirling around you?

Today’s the day. It’s time to tell. You are a writer.

LET’S DISCUSS: Do you call yourself a writer? If not, why? If so, when did you first let the secret out?


And this for you or a friend . . . 


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Photo by Cindee Snider Re, used with permission.