Simple. You tell them that you are a writer.
I say that it’s simple, but I’m writing this post to help writers who struggle when faced with the dreaded question. And by the dreaded question, I mean you’ve just met someone and they ask all chipper, “So what do you do?”
When I started writing I hated being asked that. “Uh, actually, I’m a –” I used to whisper, full of apologies because I hadn’t *you know* published anything yet.
I’d blush and stumble and stammer and avoid eye contact. After all, how could my profession be real when I hadn’t landed a deal yet? Even though writers often don’t find an agent until their manuscript is polished and that takes time. Even though getting an agent doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract.
So how long do you have to wait until you can call yourself a writer?
The answer is easy. If you write, then you’re a writer.
Haven’t published yet? Haven’t found an agent? Haven’t sold your book’s movie rights?
It doesn’t matter.
Do you write? Yes? BAM you’re a writer.
So, can you call yourself a writer? Of course! That’s what you are silly!
Let’s have a practice run. You’ve just met some person and they ask the dreaded question.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a writer,” you say with confidence. No apologies. No explanations. No excuses.
Chances are the rest of the interaction will go well. Usually they’ll ask you what genre you write, what your book is about, and whether you’ve published yet.
I’ve found that if you say you are a writer with confidence and pride people take the rest of what you say seriously. You’ve shown that you believe that what you do is valid. After all, being a writer is valid! The rest is all in your head.