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.


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?


And this for you or a friend . . . 


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.