Saturday, September 5, 2020

Do You Feel Like a Phony Writer?

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

When I quit my job to stay home with my son, I had to decide what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be. I needed a label. Something to give me an identity both when I met someone and had to answer that question that is always asked when you’re introduced to someone. The one right after what’s your name, what do you do? And I needed the label when I looked in the mirror in the morning. I knew I wanted to be a writer.

The problem was that I didn’t know what it meant to be a writer. When you look at all the ways we get our written information today—books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, devotionals, fiction, nonfiction, Bible studies—the list is seemingly endless. And constantly growing. How do you choose which category you want to write in?

Not only that, when you tell someone you’re a writer, they usually ask, what have you written? I hadn’t written anything yet. Who was I to say I was a writer? The phony label flashed on my forehead.

One of the smartest things I did when I began writing was to attend a local writers’ group. At the time, it was Cross and Pens but now they have become a Word Weavers chapter. I was so happy, I’d found my niche. I met other, breathing, people who were doing this writing thing, and some of them were being published. (I mean, we usually do want someone else to see our work, don’t we?) I learned of different places to submit, how to make my writing clearer, and, most importantly, that regular folks like me could do it. Although I was the only man there, it didn’t matter. These were writers.

And they let me fit in. They didn’t laugh at my dreams, at me not knowing the difference between devotions and devotionals, not being able to make my subject/verb agree. (Okay, there were some snickers, but it was all in fun.) I realized I could do this. I determined I would do this.

Don’t you love it when you are reading two different books and they ‘coincidentally’ touch on the same topic, making you go, “Aha.” In addition to the above quote from Austin Kleon in Steal Like an Artist,  Max Lucado (To my readers, yes, him again.), in his Just Like Jesus Devotional, gives four steps for knowing God’s will for our lives. His second step is to ask yourself, what is your longing? God normally won’t ask you to do something you can’t or don’t want to do. He will probably guide you out of your comfort zone, but He will, also, provide the steps and people to help you along the way.

What do you like to read? That’s often a good guide to what you should write.

However, for me, I read a little of everything. I start with the morning newspaper, followed usually with a devotion or a Bible study. During the day, if I come across a magazine, either in the mail or in a waiting area, I’ll read through it. Then I usually end my day with a biography and a mystery. That didn’t help me find a focus.

One great thing about writing is you don’t have to write only in one area. If you’re guided to one area great, but don’t let that stop you if you get a different opportunity. And, if, like me. you feel overwhelmed at the options, pick one and try it on. See if it fits. Then try something else. I’ve written devotions, book reviews, an article for Guidepost, articles for various blogs, and now novels. And the list will probably continue to grow.

Most of you may not list writing as your main calling. That’s fine. Most writers have other jobs: John Grisham is a lawyer, there are teachers, parents, nurses, farmers, the list is endless. It’s funny how, when I ask about people’s jobs at the dinner table at a conference, I usually get short answers. We are there as writers. For that moment, we seem to want to put the other aside.

What makes someone a writer is their desire to write? How can the beginning writer find their voice, their style, all those things they hear writers talk about. They do it by writing.

My brother told me once about his favorite writer. Who was not me, by the way. Not that I noticed. It was his first wife, who never claimed to be a writer. She was proud to be a social worker. 

What made her a good writer? Her writing touched him. Isn’t that why we write, what brings us to that terrifying blank page? So we can touch someone?

I think that is a truly worthy calling.

Do You Feel Like a Phony Writer?  - @TimSuddeth on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. Wonderful post Mr. Tim. Thanks for the encouragement, as always, sir. For what it's worth, "writer" is the second thing in my title. God's blessings my friend.

  2. I can identify with so much you have said in your writing this morning. I had no formal education in writing, what was needed, etc., etc. But I had the desire, and I joined Word Weavers International, Inc., IA Chapter. The warmth and kindness and help these individuals showed toward me was wonderful. I learned so much from them. Thank you Mr. Tim for your article. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post, Tim! Thanks for putting into words what so many writers experience.

  4. I don't think we ever get "enough" encouragement...thank you for yours!