What Makes You a Writer?

Tea


There are few other professions aside from writing where people claim to do it when they never do.

What if I were intrigued with medicine after watching the entire TV series House, so I spend the next month thinking about going into the medical field. Maybe brain surgery.

That’d be cool.

So at the next party I go to, when someone asks me what I do, I naturally tell them I’m a brain surgeon.

That would never happen, because I don’t do surgeries, which is kind of important if you’re a brain surgeon.

Then why is it so common for people to claim to be a writer when they don’t write? That seems counterintuitive to me.

With every other career or hobby, you have to actually do it, not only think about how great it’s going to be once you actually do it.

I’ve spoken to so many people who claim to be a writer, then when I ask where they’re at with their book (or whatever project they’re working on), they tell me they haven’t written in a few months (or years). All I want to say to them is, “You’re not a writer. And it doesn’t sound like you want to be either because you don’t write.”

I don’t judge at all. I really don’t. Because I’ve been there.

Do whatever the heck you want to do. But if you tell me you want to write, or you are a writer, and you just don’t write… Well that doesn’t make any sense to me.

I think my natural tendency is to be a little harsh on that mindset because that used to be me. And it held me back.

I lived in California for a while, and I got connected with a screenwriter over there. At the time, I hadn’t written in almost two years. It was a lost passion of mine. But I still called myself a writer.

We were talking about writing, so the screenwriter asked me, “When do you write? What are your writing habits?”

And when I couldn’t answer him right away, I was so embarrassed. Because I realized that I wasn’t a writer. I wanted to be a writer — at least I thought I wanted it, but not enough to actually write.

Question(s) of the day: Are you a writer? Or do you want to be a writer? What does that look like for you?

14 Comments

  1. Part of me agrees and disagrees with this. Maybe the writer is doing research for his or her writing.

    • Hey there! That can totally be the case — the concept is just working at your craft. So if you’re able to research for months at a time, then go on to write the complete piece, then that works for you.

      Others are stuck in a perpetual state of research and never get around to finishing the piece. In that case it doesn’t work.

      So it depends on the person and what works for them. But, if you’re working on your piece, then that’s moving you forward.

      I would also argue that it’s unwise to only research and not write at all during that time (even if it’s just keeping a journal, writing a short story, or something else unrelated) just as a means to keep sharp. 🙂

    • even when doing reseach, you have to write what you’ve got!
      you can even come up with a brilliant idea while reseaching so you have write no matter what

  2. I totally agree with this here. The whole part of being a writer is…well…writing! The God of Comics Alan Moore was quoted saying, “If you write everyday, you’re a writer.”

    Some may argue, “Well, not everyone has time to write everyday!” and that may be true, but I think what Moore was getting at was being a writer actually takes writing. You can’t call yourself a chef and not cook. You can’t call yourself a wizard and not slay demons. Don’t talk about it. Be about it. Put forth some effort in grasping at those fleeting moments throughout the day.

    A wise man told me, “The act of writing, promotes writing more than talking about the act of writing.” So if you’re just “talking” about writing, what are you really doing? Not writing!

    I would say that if you love to write–and a passion for writing would mean spending time writing; even if it means only five minutes while you’re on the porcelain throne–then you should be writing, instead of watching Doctor Who, you know?

    Write. Write some more. And write again!

  3. I call myself a writer. I haven’t published any works, but I do work on those projects by the side. But I write daily otherwise and with my writing I interact with others. For me writing is a hobby sure, and not by far what I make my living on (although I wish at some point in my life). I feel that I can call myself a writer, if I sit down daily and write. And I sit down daily and write, even if very little of what I ever write makes it up to the surface as a complete finished work. But I write, and therefor I’m a writer in my eyes.

  4. I would have to agree. I have been blogging for a number of years. I have recently self-published my first novel, but find myself back into the “want to be” a writer phase. I have more novels in the works, but have let life and regular job get in the way of writing those stories. Thanks for sharing and getting me inspired to be a writer.

  5. This is a tricky question of semantics, and I kind of prefer the infinitive form of the word. Saying “I write” has a different connotation for me than “I am a writer,” which implies a profession rather than an action. Plus, you can’t say “I write” without actually doing some writing, whereas it’s much easier to justify the more ethereal “I am a writer” statement.

  6. I’m a writer, definitely. A copywriter. A blogger. A tweeter. I prefer to be a fiction writer. But all of those other writing tasks hog my writing time.

    Well, those, and The Voice. I’ll be glad when the season is over. Sorta.

  7. robertwfuller772

    November 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    So I definitely agree that the things that irritate us most in others is usually a trait that we either have or are blinding ourselves to within our own behaviors. This being said I agree with the commentators who say they both agree and disagree.

    On one hand explaining this view to someone who demonstrates this infraction can serve to motivate them to finally take their leap, but it also might crush a fragile future literary genius from ever being willing to spread their wings and actually write.

    I myself never feel it is the title that really matters, especially the titles that others choose to claim for themselves. This neither interrupts nor distract from my own goals and visions.

    In times of debate in regards to how to frame my own perspectives and therefore my own emotions, is to always remember to choose to be kind over right.

    Great article!! Thank You for sharing!!

  8. a writer should write everyday and everywhere!
    even when having bathe

  9. When I play with my ball outside with my children, does it make me a footballer? Even if I play twice a week. When I cook every day beautiful sofisticated meal, does it make me a cook? And I do it every day. When I clean my house a few times a week, does it make me a cleaner?
    The list could go on and on.
    If we are speaking about writers, does writing every day make me a writer?
    To be a writer, as “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession” (Wikipedia), I can only say I am writer if my job which I am paid for is writing.
    I have published quite a few articles, that doesn´t make me a writer. 2 or 3 evenings a week, I am writing a novel. This is my hobby maybe one day It could become my profession. Meanwhile, I wouldn´t dare to call myself a writer. It will be a fraud, I will just say I write sometimes.

  10. You know I have called myself on this myself and so it’s been a wake up call for me that yes I want to be that writer and havegotten my butt in gear to do something about it.

  11. Everyone is going to have a different view, of course. If you’ve published or are seriously working on something that you intend to publish, you’re a writer. If not, then, in my opinion, writing is your hobby. Nothing wrong with that. I’ve published three novels and two short stories, but I’ve also gone months at a time without writing. I have dry periods, and periods when life gets in the way. It would be ridiculous to say that I’m a writer only if I’m actively writing all the time.

  12. I think, you re a writer when at least one of your work is published or if you’re writing for movie/theatre/etc one of your work is produced by someone, somewhere.

    You want to be a writer is ranged between, “you want to be a writer but yet to write anything” up to “you write a finished work of literature but haven’t get it out there yet”.

What do you think?

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