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What is a writer?

How do you know… or who decides, I suppose… if and when a person is “allowed” to refer to themself as a writer?

  • 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?)
  • Does it matter who publishes your work? What about self-publishing? (Cheating, again?)
  • 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.

What do YOU think?

(originally posted in November, 2009)

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Jo
    March 21, 2012

    I think writers are ones who write. Period. End of discussion. I think authors are published, either self-published or otherwise. Just mho.♥
    Jo recently posted… My Spring List of Things To Do 2012My Profile

  • Suzanne March 21, 2012

    These are all very good questions. I struggle with them all the time. Somewhere in there is the vocation aspect of it – the need to write, the necessity to write. I agree with Jo, above, when it pertains to other people but then am always hesitant to declare myself a Writer.
    Suzanne recently posted… A Little Wisdom From My TeethMy Profile

    • Dawn
      March 22, 2012

      Interesting… I wonder what would have to happen to make you feel more comfortable with doing so? Personally, I think we all have something – probably different for everyone – that is our own “defining moment” after which we are more at ease with categorizing ourselves as writers.
      Dawn recently posted… What is a writer?My Profile

  • sandra tyler March 21, 2012

    You can write for yourself which meant to stay in a journal or you can write for an audience which means working and reworking a manuscript or even a blog so that others will actually want to read it. There in lies what think frankly, are two different kinds of “writers.” I revise and revise my weekly posts because I know I am writing for an audience.

  • Kathy March 21, 2012

    I believe writers write no matter in what format and authors are published and paid handsomely for their efforts.

    Kathy recently posted… Good Luck Charms-BFF 177My Profile

  • Linda
    March 21, 2012

    Nice post! I love to write and I think I have a knack for it, but I don’t get paid for it and I’ve never written anything for publishing. I remember when I started blogging about a year ago…and I received my first comment on my first blog. It was praise for what I had written and it was then that I began to think – “hey, maybe I am a writer.” But, boy, wouldn’t it be great to have something published and get paid for it! 🙂
    Linda recently posted… Wordless Wednesday…"Locks of Love…"My Profile

    • Dawn
      March 22, 2012

      Wow, wouldn’t it?! I have never been paid for anything I’ve ever written, but it would be such a thrill to have that happen!
      Dawn recently posted… What is a writer?My Profile

  • Lou Lou Loves March 22, 2012

    I don’t think it should only be editors whom decide who the ‘writers’ are. I agree with the above. Writers write.
    Lou Lou Loves recently posted… The day I found out I was stupid.My Profile

  • Alana March 22, 2012

    Good topic. I just went from “I like to write” to “I am a writer” about a year ago. It is a very vulnerable transition, I think, since what we write, be it fiction or non, is such an integral part of who we are and to expose ourselves as writers is to validate it to ourselves ane others as important. For me it was scary!

    I delineate it as authors write books, others are writers. People who exclusively blog I would probably call bloggers, but not to minimize what they do, just because it is a different type of writing. I have friends who have been working on manuscripts for years and call themselves writers … or unpublished authors.

    I have an ongoing relationship with a newspaper, so I call myself a freelance writer or a freelance journalist. I think most people who publish add “freelance” or “professional” in front of writer to show they are earning money.

    Sorry for the very long comment, but great topic! I will be following the conversation!
    Alana recently posted… The Pope’s Perfume – writercize #167My Profile

  • ian March 22, 2012

    A writer needs to write. 😉

  • The Shiny Butter Blog March 23, 2012

    I decided that I’d had enough of writing on the side and feeling like I ought to be doing something else, something “important.” It was nearly an overnight decision and it changed everything, as though one sunny day I tore open the curtains and the beautiful light poured in around me and washed away the darkness. It was then that I first called myself a writer.
    The Shiny Butter Blog recently posted… My Dashboard Hula Girl And Her Horrific AccidentMy Profile

  • Ajay Pai
    February 1, 2015

    Hi Laurel, I have updated my profession as “freelancer Writer”. I write blogs. Professionaly I am a banker, and as a virtue I have to write several emailers to customers amongst other writings in office.

    The Label writer is hence a perfect one for me. 🙂 winks.


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