You Are More Than a Writer
18 Apr 2016

You Are More Than a Writer

18 Apr 2016

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.”

A photo by David Mao.

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.

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  1. Ann Kroeker April 19th, 2016 9:03AM

    This reminds me of a friend of mine, a talented pianist who played to large audiences regularly, recorded albums, and strongly identified as a pianist. Then she developed a physical condition and had to give it up. I ran into her not long ago and asked her about giving up that identity. It was hard at first, she said, but she’s found a new passion in restoring antique items, and the creativity involved in that has filled her up. She was beaming as she described her new efforts. I think, in fact, she understands not to simply divert her identity to this new venture, but to simply enjoy it for what it is right now.

  2. Charity Singleton Craig April 20th, 2016 8:22AM

    Thanks for this story, Ann. I think this is a tricky subject because we do identify so thoroughly with our passions. But as you’ve rightly shown, those passions don’t always last. We have to be able to alter our identity, or like your friend, just enjoy our passions without getting so wrapped up in them. Thank you!

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