Am I even a writer? After 29 years writing professionally, I’m not sure.
April 20, 2023 • Glenn Murray
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.