How I Got Over My Author Complex and Became a “Real” Writer

Carol Tice

woman winking with pencil in her mouthBy Janine Sobeck

I have built a career around the creation and telling of stories, but never felt like a writer.

My story? I’m a dramaturg. If you don’t know, that means I help playwrights develop their ideas, characters, and plotlines.

For many years, as I worked with my clients, I would feel a touch of envy and think:

“I wish I were a writer.”

Though I often received praise for my articles, interviews, blurbs and reviews, I shrugged off the notion that I was a legitimate writer.

After all, I didn’t create new worlds in my mind. I didn’t have characters speaking to me, fighting to get out of my brain and onto the page. I simply pulled together real facts and real stories in order to create something interesting.

Building a Side Job

Then, a few years ago, finances were a little tight. To get by, I took a freelance job as a content writer for an SEO company. I figured my dramaturgical experience — in particular, the skill of researching a particular topic and funneling my findings into an informative and engaging article — would translate well into that particular field.

It did.

Month after month, I wrote blog posts about every subject under the sun. I quickly realized I had a knack for creating pieces that people enjoyed reading.

So I started to expand my reach. I pitched a series of feature articles for a local theater website. I sold travel stories about my many trips abroad. I submitted articles for publication in books. I created a website to explore some of my deepest questions.

But I still didn’t call myself a writer. Somehow, somewhere, I had created this block that the only “real” writers were the ones who created works of fiction. I wasn’t writing the next great American novel (or play), so I didn’t feel worthy of the title.

Recognizing the Truth

Then, recently, I was talking to a new acquaintance about all of my many projects. Not too long into the conversation he asked:

“So, are you a writer?”

I started to say no. Before the word could escape my lips, though, I thought about why he came to that conclusion. All my projects past and present. And what tied them all together. That’s when I realized the truth.

“Yes, I am a writer. I’m a nonfiction writer.”

That simple statement altered my reality and my self-perception. No, I wasn’t going to start writing a novel (or a play). No, characters were not going to start telling me their stories. Yet, I’m still a writer. I love using words to craft narratives and convey information. I simply prefer to use true stories instead of fiction.

I still work as a dramaturge, helping people create their imagined worlds. However, I also now find a new sense of value in my nonfiction writing. A value that allows me to proudly say, “Yes, I am a writer.”

When did you finally feel like a writer? Tell us in the comments below.

Janine Sobeck is a freelance writer and dramaturge. She believes in the power of questions, theatre, travel and chocolate. 

27 Comments

  1. dailytut

    Not everyone can write clearly and precisely. I believe writing is an art and only people who practice a lot able to do it well. I am still practicing and i hope one day i will become a good writer 🙂

    btw, nice article you have here 🙂 and your blog is very interesting to read (Y) keep bringing more contents.

    Robin.

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...