In On Being a Writer, the book I co-authored with Ann Kroeker, the first chapter is called “Identify.” In that chapter we talk about the importance of writers claiming that identity as writers in order to make progress in their writing lives.
“Some people, however — despite their intent and effort — will struggle to identify as a writer,” Ann writes. Later she adds, “If you haven’t felt it or said it, it’s time. Say it: ‘I am a writer.'”
Throughout the chapter, Ann and I both talk about how important our identity as writers is to us. “I lived a writing life long before I ever called myself a writer,” I say in my section. “But in the last few years, as I have firmly grasped my identity, I have found myself taking the shape of a writer.”
But in his new website for wordsmiths called The Contemplative Writer, my friend Ed Cyzewski says, “Writing is extremely fulfilling and can serve others, but it will fail anyone who looks to it as as an identity. The foundational principle for everything that follows at The Contemplative Writer is this: Your identity is determined by God’s love for you, and you’ll only find that identity by caring for your soul.”
While I stand by the chapter in On Being a Writer and believe it is important for us to identify ourselves as writers, I also agree with Ed — with the addition of one simple word: only. “Writing is extremely fulfilling and can serve others, but it will fail anyone who looks to it as as their only identity.”
I don’t know what my life would look like if I didn’t write. But I don’t want to know what my life would look like if writing was all I had.
I am a writer. But I am also more than a writer, too.
What about you? How do you think of your identity as a writer?
Also, if you are interested in exploring the intersection of faith and writing or if you’d like to learn more about how contemplative prayer can be part of your writing life, consider checking out Ed’s new site: The Contemplative Writer
Photo by Dustin Lee via Unsplash.