Outing yourself as writer is a difficult decision for a new writer to make. Should I tell anyone I’m writing? When can I call myself a writer? They sound like small things, but they’re huge in terms of commitment and perception. It’s an extremely personal decision, and the truth is there is no right answer.
We all have our reasons for coming out of the writer closet (or not) and when we choose to do so. It’s a decision you have to make in your own time.
Though most of us fear that others will judge us for pursuing our dream, you can prepare yourself ahead of time to curtail some of that anxiety.
Telling Your Friends
Here are a few tips to help you come out as a writer, as well as a few boilerplate answers for dealing with judgmental people.
Start with People You Trust
Most of us consider coming out of the writer closet when we decide we’d like to publish. That decision declares your intention to make writing more than a hobby or passion, and that can be scary. What if I don’t get published? What will people say? Will they give you the “yeah, right” look?
You don’t have to tell everyone at once. Start with people you trust to believe in you.
Perhaps a parent, sibling, or friend that you look to for encouragement. These people are going to cheer you on and want to see you succeed. It’s also nice to have this cheering section when imposter syndrome creeps up.
Grow Your Writing Community
It’s time to get involved and make friends. Whether through social media or local writing groups or the All The Kissing Facebook Group, you’ll not only learn from each other. Your writing friends, more than anyone else, will understand the industry and its ups and downs. They know what you’re going through and are usually eager to lend a hand, ear, or shoulder.
The less isolated you feel, the easier it is to make your proclamation. Again, start small if you must, but I think you’ll find this is the easiest group tell about your writing pursuits because they’ve been where you are.
Telling people about your writing doesn’t really get nerve-wracking until you decide to tell people outside the community and your immediate circle that you’re a writer. We fear the questions, and how others may judge us. What you can do is prepare yourself for some of the questions and reactions you may get from people in your outer circle.
Prepare a Few Sentences About Your Concept and Memorize Them
Most people you’ll tell will be genuinely fascinated by the shiny new writer in their midst. They’re going to ask questions about your processes and will want to know what your story is about. It helps, even if you’re very early in the writing phase to have a couple of sentences ready for the big question. Of course, this can change as your story evolves, but being able to talk about your concept, succinctly, can help ease a lot of your anxiety.
Dealing with Skeptics
Hopefully, most people you tell will be downright supportive and genuine in their interest and questions. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. On occasion you may come across individuals who will judge you or make negative comments. I’ve formulated a few general responses to Judgy Judgerson that can help you shut them down.
“When is your book coming out?”
Ugh, this question. First, you know when someone asks with legitimate interest and when they’re doing it to needle you. Second, for a brand-new writer, it’s one of the worst questions to get because it can make us feel inadequate and give us anxiety galore.
It’s also not easy to explain the lengthy writing, querying, or publishing processes to a lay person. Particularly when you’re sure they’re asking the question to be an asshat. We also anticipate the “yeah, right” look that comes after our answer and that adds to the anxiety.
I have a couple of boilerplate answers that can help here, but please remember, only you can let someone make you feel inadequate.
“Well, Kevin, both writing and publishing are long processes that require diligence, and I’m still looking for the right home for this manuscript.”
I find this has a way of subverting most of the “yeah, right” looks. It conveys that you take your writing seriously and consider every aspect carefully before moving forward.
If your manuscript isn’t finished, you can try something like this: “I’m still in the writing stage of this book. It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication to plan out manuscripts and tweak them until they’re at their best.”
“What type of books do you write?” (*chuckles under their breath* “Oh, you write those books”)
It’s up to you how much to tell people about what you write. Romance writers carry the undeserved stigma of being considered less than other writers. However, the romance community is one of the warmest and most accepting I know. Most romance writers, including me, would argue that good writing is good writing, no matter the genre. But when faced with a person who responds to your answer with “oh, mommy porn” or “I don’t read those books, ” I find some iteration of this helpful:
“If you mean books that empower women both as readers and writers, then yes––that is what I write! After all, the romance genre comprises nearly thirty percent of all books sold and consistently outsells any other genre. Our future is female, you know.”
“So you write Fifty Shades style books? Is your main character based on you?”
The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has led many to believe that it is all-encompassing for the genre because that’s the romance novel with a household name. I prefer to use comparisons from pop culture, choosing something I think the person will be familiar with while discouraging the notion that all romance novels are the same. It’s also up to you to decide if you want to delve into your preferred heat level.
The second question, in my opinion, is invasive. Frankly, it’s nobody’s business but yours. However, when people learn you write romance, it’s a question they find too tempting whether it’s appropriate or not. If you’re comfortable telling them you’re the basis for your main character, by all means do. If you’re not okay with that try these on for size––one for when I need to get my snark on if I think they’re fishing, and one for when I’m being more polite because they realize how personal the question is. Feel free to build on either one for your own purpose.
Snark: “Why, yes, Karen. I’m totally all my characters because I’m just that fabulous and books should be written about me.”
Polite: Hmm, interesting question. *grins, but doesn’t answer.*
Unfortunately there is no set point at which you’re “expected” to call yourself a writer. For some, that happens the moment we put our fingers to keyboard. For others, it’s not until we’ve finished a manuscript or queried an agent. What’s more important is that you get to decided the if, when and how much you tell people. However, if and when you’re ready to embrace the moniker romance writer, I can assure you there is a large and welcoming family for you here at All The Kissing.