Becoming a “Real” Writer

I’ve been writing my whole life, but I didn’t feel like a real writer.

If people asked, “What do you do?” I’d tell them I’m a mom, a substitute teacher, a volunteer jail chaplain. Anything, but a writer. After all, they might ask what novels I’d written, or assume I earned a steady income as a freelance writer.

Never mind that I’d been writing stories from the time I could hold a pencil. Or that I spent several years as a newspaper journalist. I never showed people my portfolio filled with published first-person stories and Christian devotions. Never asked people to read my blog.

Compelled to write, but reluctant to admit I’m a writer.

Perhaps if writing had been my vocation instead of a hobby, I would have advertised the fact. Instead, I remained mute, and allowed my writing to wax and wane while I raised my children. And I prayed that one day, I’d become a real writer.

While other writers talked about “God’s calling,” I resorted to plucking flower petals for a sign. “God wants me to be a writer. God doesn’t want me to write. God wants…”

Then one day, a real author told me. “If God equipped you to write, then you must use your gift for whatever means. Now, say it out loud—I’m a writer.”

I glanced around and whispered. “I’m…a…writer.”

“Say the words like you mean them.”

“I’m A Writer.”

“Now, go write.”

That moment freed me to write, attend writers conferences, and join Inspire. I experienced a measure of success, but the melancholy thought lingered—am I a real writer?

What’s real?

Does a real writer have to pen a novel? Reach a quota of published manuscripts? Have a large platform? Become a well-known name?

In The Velveteen Rabbit, Skin Horse says, “Becoming real happens when a child loves…really loves you.”

By that criteria, the God of the universe really loves me. He calls me His own. Proclaiming truth—who I am in Christ—is my real identity. Writing is what I get to do.

About Karen Foster 13 Articles
Karen Foster is a nonfiction writer and speaker and author of Lunch with Loretta: Discover the Transforming Power of Mentoring Friendship. Her story, "Tender Mercies" appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families (May 2017). Karen's articles and devotions have been published in The Upper Room, The Bible Advocate, Now What?, Discipleship Journal, and Moms Next. She blogs at Or follow her on Twitter @eveninthis.


  1. Thank you for this beautiful story! It gives me fresh hope and encouragement. I have just had my first article published in the Inspire Joy anthology, coming out soon. It is still too scary to say, “I am a Writer.” People might expect more from me if I say that!
    But I love how you finish with, “Who I am in Christ—is my real identity. Writing is what I get to do.”

    • Thanks Susan. I know you’ve shared the same sentiments. I’m very happy you have come along side of me to encourage my writing. I pray you feel I’ve done the same for you!! Write away!!!!

  2. Love your post Karen! So appreciate your vulnerability and honesty. I feel the same way…and continue to move forward with the message He puts on my heart to share. Your post propels me to write down the words He’s given me to share.

    • Kim, I read your book and I’m here to say You are definitely a writer. And you have so much wisdom to offer others. But thank you taking the time to share your kindred thoughts!!

  3. Karen, I’ve read your work, and yes, you are a writer. It is no surprise that you were a writer as early as you could hold a pencil.

    I also struggle with this since, apart from some magazine articles, I’ve never been ‘really’ published. Your Skin Horse quote really helps. And, I am confident in one thing, I am doing what God has called me to do. Thank you for your frank and sincere post. It’s an encouragement. : )

    • Libby, consider yourself hugged! And thanks for the kind words. I love your tenacity as a writer. You write, learn, grow, and never give up!! I pray you reap the rewards of that book you’re writing, and see it published one day. Mostly, I pray motorcycle babes will be touched and changed by the Holy Spirit after they read your book. Don’t give up!!

  4. Loved your post, Karen. It took me forever to say, “I’m a writer,” too. I think it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve been telling people I’m a writer. Love what you said about identity though. I get in trouble when that’s my identity because then my identity rests on how much time I spend writing, how well my writing goes that day, and how much people like my writing – not a very good recipe for a steady, confident identity! When I see myself instead as God’s beloved daughter, I feel much more secure. 🙂

    • Barb, the questions in your book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, spurs me to pursue my dream. But I know from videos and words you’ve shared that you struggle with identifying yourself as a writer. How funny, considering you DO HAVE a published book that impacts people. So I guess I’m not alone in this “identity crisis.” Thanking God our real identity is in HIM. For only He can satisfy our hearts.

  5. Thanks for your transparency, Karen. I love that aspect of your writing voice. My entire writing journey has been filled with insecurity. But the Lord sent wonderfully encouraging writers into my life. They helped me believe in myself, as I continued to draw closer to God and develop my craft.

    Although I still struggle with doubts, I ask God to keep my focus on His abilities instead of my lack of abilities. I offer Him my best and trust Him to decide how to use my offerings of worship. It helps to know we’re not alone, though.

    God is using you to encourage me and many others, Sister. Write on!

    He is using you to encourage others, Sister. Write on!

    • Thank you Xochitl for the encouragement. I’ll never forget how you spurred me on this past summer when my ability to write felt like I was living in a drought. You always point me to Jesus!

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