About a year ago, I spilled the beans on my best kept secret. I finally told people that I plan on being a writer. For me, this was terrifying. I was afraid of what people might say, the eye rolls, the ‘you’ll never make money doing that’ speech.
I still struggle with this, and I’ve been writing since I exited the womb. I always told adults that I wanted to be an writer when I grew up. At the time, they patted me on the head and said, “How wonderful.”
But as I grew up, I began to realize that people who have dreams of being a rock star, or an actor, or even a writer, are usually written off as a future hobo. They might not say it out loud, but you can see them thinking it.
Writers are usually pretty sensitive people, and even more sensitive about their work. It doesn’t matter if you’re seventeen or forty-two, it can be a little daunting when you come out and tell people that you want to be a writer. When people ask about your career plans, they expect you to say, “I’m going to be a doctor, nurse, lawyer, etc.” Something practical, you know?
I just want to be the first Asian-American president.
Not really. But if you understood that reference, I like you.
Now, as an English major, I’m in this situation constantly.
“I’m studying English.” Let the blank stares and polite smiles begin.
The following question is always, “Oh, so you’re going to teach?”
*suppressed eye roll*……Well, yes, actually. Maybe.
So, to get you through the occasionally awkward experience of telling people that you want to be a writer, here are my six tips.
It doesn’t have to be a huge announcement. You don’t have to send out save the date cards or anything like that. And the best part is, you get to choose who you tell. Start with your closest friends and family, the people you trust most. The support from them will help you out when you get discouraged.
Make a plan for your writing career. What are you going to write? How are you going to get it published? Will you get a degree in English? Are you going to have a day job? It’s easier to speak confidently about your plan if you actually have one. It doesn’t have to be a set plan. In fact, it’s better to have Plan A, B, C, and Z.
You don’t have to pretend that you’ve already published a dozen books that are on their way to becoming best-sellers. You just have to be honest. Share a little bit about what you have accomplished, whether you’re in the process of writing it still or it’s completely edited.
Keep an open mind.
Some of the people that I’ve told were very interested and asked me questions. And sometimes I was really surprised by how positively they reacted. Although it’s probably not be true, I like to think that the person secretly wishes they could do it too.
Don’t let it get you down.
And if they don’t support you? That’s okay, too. My advice is, you do you. If the person reacts negatively, turn it into a positive. I’m almost more motivated to write when people discourage me. I love to prove people wrong.
All of my characters go through frustration and discouragement, so this is perfect kindle for their flame.
It makes it better to know that there are others understand you, though, so here’s a BuzzFeed list that I totally relate to: Things English Majors Are Tired of Hearing.
Surround yourself with writers.
It’s easy to start regretting your career choice, no matter what career it is. Keep other writers and artists close to you to help you recharge and stay inspired.
At my college, I’m one of the few English majors. We’re like a little family. I’m familiar with the grimaces of my science major friends when they are assigned a reading assignment or paper for their composition class. I’d take that over organic chemistry any day, thank you very much.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I was born to be a writer. Most people aren’t, and that’s okay.
I want to bring up a small detail from the beginning. I titled this post, “How to Tell People You’re a Writer,” not, “How to Tell People You WANT TO BE a Writer.” You are a writer if you say you are. Never forget that.