To say "I'm a writer" can feel like a heavy and maybe even unearned title. When can you say "I'm a writer?" When you're published? When you've written that first novel draft? Posted everyday on Twitter and Facebook? Once you start blogging? When you're officially depressed or have hit a Blakean state of ecstasy? Years ago, a journalist friend of mine told me she phrased it this way: "I write." I liked that. Because at that particular time in my life, even though I was writing for a living, I wasn't sure if I felt comfortable saying, "I'm a writer." This discomfort probably came from the simple fact that writing was more of a verb, something I did that, along with a variety of activities and interests, all made up the story of who I am. Years later, I still feel the same but claim the Writer title a bit more easily.
But really, I think claiming the writer is an individual right. You want it? You do it? Claim it how you wish!
Just to illustrate the humor around this topic, here's one of my favorite stories about Being a Writer.
Several years ago I was giving a writer's workshop. During introductions we went around the table and everyone said something about his/her writing practice and identity. Intro after intro people said things like: "I haven't been writing the way I should, I can't seem to find time," basically stories of writers not writing, but each person thought of themself as a Writer, even if a Writer who lost his way. Which happens, of course.
The last woman to introduce herself was in her late sixties and said:
"I write everyday. But I'm not a writer."
So, who's to say?