How to Shift from Wannabe Writer to Actual Writer

You say you want to write your story.

You have an idea to bring to life on the page. You’ve told yourself you’ll get stuck into writing it when… (insert your reasons and excuses here).

Life seems to get in the way and so, the time never seems to come.

But the idea? It remains.

It began as a niggle, but is now becoming a well-formed concept in your brain busting to find its way out onto a word document.

How do you change this pattern?

How do you stop procrastinating and just do the work of writing?

Ah, the perennial question.

A change from wannabe writer to actual writer requires an identity-shift.

Most of us don’t identify as writers. We think of ourselves as mothers, workers, partners (insert the 101 roles a woman plays here), but not as writers.

If you don’t believe you are a writer, you won’t write. To make writing a habit, you must first create a new identity for yourself.

After turning 60 late last year, I was reflecting on my book-writing history.

There was a five-year gap between my last two books, The Purpose Project (2017) and Brave Women Write (2022) and 2023 passed with nary a word written on my novel. While my intention is to write many more books in my life-time, my daily actions have not supported that goal.

I somehow needed an identity-shift from that of ‘part-time writer’ to ‘committed author’. My goal was to make book-writing a way of everyday life—my vocation, not just a now-and-then part of life.

The January holidays offered me an opportunity for reflection and time to consider how best to reset my identity. I discussed it with my co-mentor Angela and my writers’ group and journaled on these questions;

  • How does a writer act?

  • What daily habits does a writer have?

  • What does a writer do when (ABC) happens? (ABC is any event that could disrupt your writing such as a friend calling in for an impromptu coffee.)

As a result of this, big chunks of time to write each day are now scheduled in my diary. I’m learning to say NO to non-essential invitations/activities so I can say YES to more writing. And I’ve sought the support of the important people in my life. And that’s just for starters.

While it’s a work-in-progress, I’m happy to report I’ve made great progress on my novel.

We each have different life/family/work commitments so what works for me will not work for you. However, changing your identity is something you have control over and it can even happen overnight. It doesn’t require months and months of painstaking navel-gazing. It’s a life-changing decision you can make in an instant to get you writing.

Start saying to yourself ‘I’m the kind of person who writes … (fill in the blank)’ and then become that person word by word, day by day.

An identity-shift is just one magic key to unlocking your writers’ life. There’s two more life-changing shifts that have worked for me. I’ll share them in the next two weeks.

We’ll be discussing these ideas and more at the Brave Women Write Dinner on Thursday 14 March in Melbourne. At the dinner we’ll be workshopping and sharing our stories. I’d love you to join me. 


What’s the identity-shift you need to create to get writing?

With love

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Join the next Brave Women Writers’ Circle

Beginning Friday 24 May 2024

Are you a woman who yearns to share your story with the world? Do you often suppress your inner voice and wait for that perfect day to write? Or perhaps you’ve begun writing and are feeling stuck? If so, the Brave Women Writers’ Circle is the right place for you.

Carolyn Tate is an experienced author and educator and is the facilitator of the Brave Women Writers’ Circle. The 12-week course guides you to bring your writing project to life while connecting you to a courageous community of other women writers.