Once, many years ago, I attended a workshop where we did a visualization of the future: In my vision, I saw myself writing while my husband took care of our child. It was a beautiful day and after a morning of writing, my husband and I had lunch with our child, and then we all took a bike ride together.
After the visualization, the instructor looked at me. I was silently crying.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“It’s impossible,” I said. At that moment, my vision seemed like a cruel joke. I was working full-time (>100 hrs/wk) as a physician, I was deep in debt, and I’d been trying to get pregnant for years and nothing had worked.
The following week I quit my job and started working as a freelance writer—No, just kidding.
Actually, I left the workshop that day thinking that Martha Beck (the instructor) was a sadistic woman. I hadn’t realized how much I wanted to be a writer until I did that visualization and now I knew how miserable I was but I couldn’t do anything about it.
Or could I?
What I did was—return to the workshop the next day, where I started to feel a glimmer of hope. After all, the visualization was about 5 years in my future. I had time. I could figure it out. And I did. (The writing part, I mean. Getting pregnant was just my own personal miracle, if you ask me.)
The way I started to figure it out was that I started to change my thoughts about my life. Once I did that, everything else followed.
Here’s an exercise I did at that time that helped me change my thoughts about myself as a writer. Maybe they will help you.
My Dichotomous Life
- I can either be __________________________ or ___________________________________.
- I can either have _________________________ or __________________________________.
- I can either do __________________________ or ___________________________________.
Now, rewrite the very same things in the blanks below.
- I intend to be both _______________________ and ___________________________________.
- I intend to have both _______________________ and _________________________________.
- I intend to do both _______________________ and ___________________________________.
With exercises like these, and many others, I slowly started to think of myself as a writer and, as a result, I started writing more. Not just in my journal, but local articles in free papers near where I lived, and short stories for my family to read.
I continue to work on my identity as a writer. Every time I sit my butt in the chair and start typing, I call myself a writer. Here’s the statement I’m working on now:
“I can either be a novelist or a nonfiction author,” became “I intend to be both a novelist and a nonfiction author.”
Do you have any tricks or exercises that nurture your identity as a writer?