Am I even a writer? After 29 years writing professionally, I’m not sure.

April 20, 2023 •
Mind map illustrating the non writing tasks I do

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. 

As a child, I wrote poetry and short stories. As a teenager, I penned essays and drooled over the lyrics of ‘The Wall’. As a uni student, I spewed yet more essays and tried my own hand at songwriting. Straight out of uni, I became a technical writer, and I did that for 8 years. Then I started my own copywriting business, and I’ve been doing that for 21 years.

Yet the older I get, the less sure I become that the word “writer” should feature in my job title.

In every job I’ve ever had, and in my entire time running my business, I’ve done a bunch of stuff for my clients that are definitely not writing tasks. Here’s a smattering of them:

  • User interaction (UI) design
  • Information architecture (IA)
  • User experience (UX) design
  • Website and software design and testing
  • Design review
  • Process and system design
  • Reputation management
  • Brand persona planning
  • Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
  • Technical support
  • Content strategy
  • Communication strategy
  • Project and people management
  • Surveys and focus groups
  • Functional specs and user stories
  • Video storyboarding
  • Planning documents
  • Training and coaching
  • Keyword research and search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Partner negotiation and management
  • Legal document review
  • Legal research
  • Business strategy

Obviously I didn’t do all of this, straight out of uni. Nor did I do it all in every job or for every client. But I’ve definitely spent significantly more time doing all of this type of stuff than I’ve spent writing.

For the longest time, I thought of these skills as just peripheral parts of a good writer’s job.

But now I think that may be wrong. I’m no longer sure that writing is at the heart of my skill set. Perhaps it never was. Perhaps it was just the only skill I knew how to name.

I think I’m coming to the conclusion that my skill set revolves around what makes sense to people.

And this begs the question: What does it mean for my job title? What do I tell my mum I do?

‘Chief Experience Officer’ sums it up pretty nicely. But no-one knows what that means (and the acronym would make it even more confusing). 

What say you? Is there a job title that hits the spot and which my mum would understand? Please let me know in the comments.

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