What is a Writer?

I’m writing a novel, except, most of the time I am not. Surely I cannot call myself a writer. What makes somebody a writer?

Most of us own the basic equipment to write; I’ve got paper and a pen, but this no more makes me a writer as having legs makes me a marathon runner.

Most of us write daily, even if it is just a shopping list, or running our fingers over a keyboard to input passwords or SMS messages. But doing this makes me no more a writer than kicking a football makes me a footballer.

Being a writer is not found in the basic action of writing, nor is it achieved by having the right equipment. Writing of the kind that makes one ‘a writer’ only occurs through the continued and considered action of writing. Nor is it about professionalism; praise and financial gain comes immediately at the action of the professional sportsman, but any gain found by the writer is delayed and so is disconnected from the exertion of writing itself. Society may eventually reward the writer but it may never. Nor is being a writer necessarily about the quantity of words one writes. Chekhov advised that the first three pages of an authors novel should be thrown out at first revision. Being a writer is not just about putting words down; its about taking them away as well.

Many of us may want to write. But I imagine that a more honest truth is that we want to have written. Some survey discovered that 81% of Americans want to write a book, however they haven’t and most of them never will. We can also assume that most of us who wish to write will find ourselves disappointed if we actually wrote. We may all have a book in us, but nobody said that it would be any good.

The more honest truth is not that we want to write, but that we want to have written. Maybe its the achievement we’re after. The recognition not just of having done something that was hard, but we want the validation of our book to be a validation of us, as writing is all about communication.

So, when can we who write (or who want to write) actually call ourselves writers? The one answer that I can find that is satisfactory is that we are only a writers when we are writing. If you really want to be called a writer then you must always write.

Jim Lockey wrote everything on this blog and apologises for his errors in grammar and the odd missed out word. He is also writing a novel, its called After The Flood.

About jim lockey

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3 Responses to What is a Writer?

  1. “any gain found by the writer is delayed and so is disconnected from the exertion of writing itself”

    I really love that phrase; you’ve hit the mark perfectly. Though I have to say, I do think some writers prefer to BE writing than to have finished something. It feels good to finish a piece, but once it’s done you want to move on and start something new, something that will challenge and interest you the way the last work did.

    • jimlockey1 says:

      Well when one takes the pleasure from writing, I suppose that is the mark of the true ‘writer’. The difference between you and the 81% who like the idea of writing is that you actually like writing. Thanks for your response.

  2. Pingback: The Week Ending April 7 IN DUST | Covered By The Dust

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