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How do you define a writer?

Have you ever given any thought as to how you would define a writer? In other words, how do you know… or who gets to decide, I suppose… if and when it would be appropriate for a person – maybe even you – to claim the label of writer as their own?

What do you think?

writing

  • Must your work have been published in paper form? Must it be an actual book, or are magazines, trade journals, newsletters, etc. acceptable?
  • What if your medium is online – web site articles, blogging, etc.? (Is that cheating, somehow? Or just the way it is today?)
  • Does it matter who publishes your work? What about self-publishing? (Cheating, again?)
  • Do you have to be an author to be considered a writer?
  • Is a blogger automatically a writer? Can you be a blogger without being a writer?
  • Must you have been paid for your writing? Must you sell a certain amount of product?
  • Must you have an audience of a specific size or demographic? What if all you ever do is write for your own consumption? (If a tree falls in the forest…)
  • Do you have to be “good” by some particular person’s definition? Or is the love of writing enough?

So many questions… and I suspect the answer completely depends on who you ask.

I think I’ll just keep writing until I figure it out.

How do you define a writer?
Please share!

(Originally posted in part in November, 2009.)

NaBloPoMo February 2014

Laurel Regan – Writer, tangler, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, cat herder, needle felter, iPhoneographer, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Sonja
    Twitter:
    February 11, 2014

    Great article. The best quote I have heard recently goes ‘You want to be a writer? Start acting like one!’ – I think it really fits your article and your questions. It doesn’t matter if you are a published author or a silent writer. The key is to follow your passion and write!
    Sonja recently posted… Pinterest Rolls Out Related PinsMy Profile

  • Alana(
    Twitter:
    February 11, 2014

    I think a person is a writer if they must write – if they don’t write, they suffer. Even if the writing stays private, that person is still a writer. Hopefully the skill will follow the need.
    Alana( recently posted… The Chocolate Lab ExperimentMy Profile

  • oana February 11, 2014

    I guess a definition of a writer is difficult to pinpoint. I think a writer is one that loves writing with true passion. If professionally and artistically I consider myself a writer, before being a businesswoman or accountant or any other profession, I guess that would be a definition wouldn’t it?

  • Helene Cohen Bludman February 11, 2014

    I do think about this, and I’m not sure I know the answer. Interesting to read what others think.

  • Debbie
    Twitter:
    February 12, 2014

    In my opinion a writer is someone who has a talent and passion for writing. No other criteria required. Not all bloggers have a flair for writing, but many certainly do. To be a good blogger, you need to be able to get your point across, yes?
    Debbie recently posted… “DEAR WEBMASTER”…ADVENTURES IN BLOGGINGMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      Twitter:
      February 12, 2014

      I think you’re right – I think the most successful bloggers either have a flair for writing, or contract out their posts to someone who does!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Why do you write?My Profile

  • ElaineLK February 12, 2014

    Laurel, you give me so much to think about! This is such an interesting question, and one I’ve struggled with. When I was a child the first thing I remember wanting to be was a writer, and that didn’t change as I grew up. Then life got in the way. I lost confidence and turned to something not quite writing but necessary to it–editing. Then over the past decade or so the desire hit me full force again, and I started practicing and “training,” but didn’t call myself a writer. I’ve had two pieces published, with a third coming, and each time I’ve said, now I can call myself a writer, but I still don’t know if I am. Are you a writer if you don’t work full time at it? Are you a writer if you haven’t been published? if you haven’t been paid? I like to think so. When you think about it, an artist is an artist even if he or she never sells a painting, sculpture, what have you. So why shouldn’t we consider ourselves writers if that’s how we see ourselves? As for blogging, there are many who are very good writers, some who are not so good, and some who have blogs that concentrate on other things, like photos or particular hobbies.
    Maybe it’s just in how we see ourselves rather than how others see us, or what we imagine people will think if we say we’re writers. I guess the question remains open.

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