Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Writer" or "writer" ... that is the question

Recently my blogging friend at The Feathered Nest posted a piece on "writing prompts."  She described it as a rant.  Apparently there has been some discussion in blog land on this topic.  The point of contention is ... do "real" writers need prompts? Her rant generated a bunch of comments from her readers.

Her post on this subject initiated another topic for me ...

What makes a person a Writer (or a "real" writer)? 

In my opinion we are talking about 2 different things -  Writers and writers or someone who seeks writing as a profession vs someone who uses writing as a tool to do something else.

For me a Writer is one who ...
  • professes to practice a craft
  • uses prompts to spark new writing ideas
  • declares they MUST write to be happy
  • desires to be published or achieve some kind recognition for their efforts
  • writes about writing
  • reads about writing
  • seeks to improve their writing skill
  • puts the word 'Author' after their name or in the title of their blog
I am none of these things.

(Now if you substituted the word "Knitter" for "Writer" - that would fit me more.)

Blog land is filled with Writers or want-to-be Writers by my definition.  Usually I avoid these blogs because they are so focus on the writing process - character creation, plot structure, agent representation, their current writing project, or their next writing project.  Seriously, we do not share similar interests.

I am a Blogger ... I use writing as a tool to blog.  I guess you could argue that if I write (even for a blog) that I am a Writer.  But I would argue the following:

I cook
 but I am most certainly not a chef.

My blog is more like the artist who uses a sketch book as chronicle of expression
 and paints for their own enjoyment. 
 They have no desire to become an "Artist" like Van Gough or Picasso.

My blog is more like a game of golf with friends. 
I have no desire to be Tiger Woods.

So ...

Are you a Writer or a writer?  
Do you distinguish between those 2 words?  
Do you see any difference?

It's ok.
You can tell me if I am splitting hairs.


Retired Knitter, a Knitter


  1. I am a writer . . . not trying for publication just personal thoughts, ideas, reflections.

    Great post . . .

  2. You make excellent points. I am a writer in that I seriously write poetry and have submitted same in contests and to publications. I am a writer in that I place my thoughts and flash fictions and poetry on a blog where people outside my family can read and comment on them. It takes courage to do that. Sometimes I hesitate.
    I am not paid for writing so I guess I'm not a Writer. The only place I was ever published is in my high school year book. It is a fine line though. Would you call someone who exclusively does ghostwriting a Writer? What about someone whos work was discovered and published after their death, are they both a writer and a Writer? How about the person who struggles their whole life in the effort to become published and paid; do they die a writer?
    So....I agree with all your comparisons and descriptions....they are very clear and well thought out, but, in my heart, I'm a Writer. Maybe that is where the true definition lies. In your heart.

    1. You really got me thinking. Great points.

      Yes to the Ghost Writer. Their profession is writing, they are known for their abilities (because they were asked to ghost write) and they are paid. They would rather write under their own name, but they have to eat too! So they take the writing jobs offered because they love to write.

      Yes to someone work discovered and published after death. They are both write and Writer. Like Anne Frank who didn't live long enough to have her own career - she wrote for her own needs but was a Writer non the less.

      Yes to the person who struggles to be published and paid but never is.

      I guess what I should have said is ... Writers appear to fit MOST of the points in my list.

      And yes to the heart. The heart rules generally rules the body, and over time what the heart wants spills out and shows ... the writer begins to look like a Writer!

    2. Not all ghostwriters would rather write under their own name. I much prefer ghostwriting, and I can think of a few others who feel the same way.

  3. You made all good points between the two and I agree with you.
    I am NOT a writer and just like to keep a journal and I am happy, pleased, and surprised that others care to read by blog. A great bonus is that some of the readers have become friends as well. : )

    1. And I am happy to count myself among your friends!!

  4. I am a yakker who doesn't know any strangers. While careful not to give out too much personal information whether face to face or online, I will engage almost anyone and everyone in conversation.

    Blogging came to me after I retired and before hubby did. It probably has saved him a hundred comments per day that I think are interesting and he wonders what is my point. Fortunately he is a good husband and rarely expresses that. Once in awhile his expression gives it away though.

    I see the difference and fall on your side of the fence. There are things I could perfect if I needed to attempt earning a living at writing, knitting, painting, etc. but I am fortunate that I don't have to do that, nor do I have anything to prove. I am content with what I do and how I do it. That is an accomplishment.

    1. Ahh, so you are a Yakker vs a yakker!!

  5. This is such an excellent, beautifully written, thought provoking post.

    I’ve been a writer for decades. I’ve also been a ghostwriter, an editor and a publisher. The one distinction I find commonly agreed upon in the publishing community is that the word “author” is reserved for a writer who’s been published.

    Naturally, to be considered a writer, one must write. :) Beyond that, it’s really all conjecture. Being a writer or a “real” writer is simply what each of us feels/perceives it to be. No more and no less. No matter what our particular level or skill in writing, we should celebrate the joy it gives us to create, and perhaps share, blog posts, short stories, novels, nonfiction works, etc.

    Never allow anyone to make you feel less than you are because you don’t measure up to their trumped up ideals. :)

    You, Retired Knitter, are a WRITER! :D


    1. Wow, this writing question has generated a whole lot of interesting thought and points of view!

      Good to know about the use of the word "author." I didn't realize that!

      I agree ... writing is creating. And as this post proves, it you write about something that interests others, it creates this great discussion.

      And thank you, Susan. I don't describe myself as a Writer, much less a WRITER, but I have to admit to feeling flattered that someone else thinks I am - especially someone with your background. It did put a smile on my face ... :-) even if I think I am more of a writer.

      Cheers, everyone.

  6. This was a thoughtful post. I am barely a writer. I have a blog because there are things that I wish to share. I wish that I wrote better. I think of you as a Good writer... perhaps a Writer... because you express things so very well!

    1. Thanks, Carolyn.

      I think I have the ability to write the way I talk! Which I think makes me more of a talker!! :-)

      Anyway, I have completely enjoyed this post and the comments it has generated. Thanks for weighing in on the subject.

  7. For me, the difference is whether someone is a professional writer or a hobby writer. Hobby writers can still earn money, but they write because they enjoy it and don't have to make a living at it.


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