Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hello, My Name is Nikki...and I'm a Writer

by Nikki Studebaker Barcus

I recently made the front page of the local newspaper highlighting two recently published pieces in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Before you call to schedule me for your next national meeting or to endorse your latest book, I must tell you that my picture and interview were next to the picture of the Easter egg hunt in the nearby town with no stoplight. However, the interviewer did a very nice write-up and I was honored to be featured in the same paper that announced my birth, my graduations, my wedding, and the birth of my three kids.

The piece ran nearly two months ago, but just this week I've had no less than three people mention it to me. The secret's out, folks. A year ago, when asked what I did for a living, I would answer that I trained as a teacher but now stayed home with my kids. But in the last nine months I've changed my answer. I tell them I'm a freelance writer. People must not know many writers, because they usually register a look of shock, their eyebrows shooting to their hairline, before they ask the second question, "What do you write?"

At first, telling people I wrote for a living seemed a little pretentious. I mean, I barely keep the family supplied with milk and toilet paper (the two things we seem to run out of most often) with the income I generate from my writing, but hey, it's a start. But I've found that claiming my position as a writer cemented it in my head--it became real for me. The more I said it, the more I believed it myself. I gained confidence in my ability and the increased accountability served as a type of positive pressure to keep producing quality work.

A few weeks ago, I worked crossword puzzles on my Kindle as my teenage son made the rounds through the stations during sports physicals. As I pondered 24 Down, I listened to one doctor question my son (I'm a mom, I can multi-task like that). He checked his height and weight, asked about the sports he competed in, and whether a parent accompanied him that night. "Is that your mom over there?" he asked, motioning toward me with his pen. "Oh, she's that writer in the newspaper, right?"

Yes, sir. Yes I am. My name's Nikki and I'm a writer.

How about you? Do you tell people you are a writer or an author? If so, do you get the same questions? Do you find it helps keep you motivated? If you don't tell people, why not? Are you waiting for something? Think about giving it a try this week. Here, let me help you get started. Just fill in the blank with your name:

Hello, my name is __________ and I'm a writer.


  1. I've always heard to say "I'm a writer" if you haven't published a book or write magazine articles and to say "author" if you have published at least one book. Not sure if that is the correct approach or not...

  2. Nikki,

    I enjoyed this article. Thank you.

    I don't know how I fit on Darren's "rule" above, but I usually say I'm a novelist. Which, if by being a novelist you mean you've completed at least one novel (irregardless of being published), that's true of me.

    But I've also written letters to the editor (and was paid for one, 400 whole cents!) and blogs and songs and other things, so maybe I should call myself a writer.

    And the world will be thankful if I don't start singing the classic Beatles hit about writing. (I definitely can't handle the high notes!)


  3. YOU are an AWESOME writer and I'm so proud to have gone to class with you at least once! Congrats on your success. It was inevitable. Your writing style/voice is scrumptious.

    I'm just learning how to tell people I'm a writer, too. I don't get the reaction you do. Most of them think I sit at home and play on the internet all day. Others are like, "show me the money!"

    If I can ever get to the point where I'm actually bringing home milk and toilet paper with my money from writing it will be a grand day! :-)

    Hugs, Nikki! You rock.

  4. Awe! I'm so proud of my third grade teacher. You were amazing as my teacher and I have every confidence that you are an amazing writer!
    I love you and God bless.

  5. Nikki, I loved this post because I can so relate! I've only recently started saying writer, but sometimes I default to the same thing as you (trained teacher/stay-at-home mom). I'm getting there.;)