I was browsing through Pulse on LinkedIn today and saw someone pose this question to the Writer’s group I’m a part of:
How do you feel when you tell people you’re a writer and they say, “You know, I do some writing, too.”?
The person who posed the question himself responded by saying:
“Personally, it offends me, and I will politely let them know this. It offends me because I work very hard, tirelessly even, at what I do and for someone to compare professional writing to just plain being literate in general I feel belittled.”
How does everyone else respond?
I was amazed to see the variety in responses to this simple question. Here are some of the common ideas:
- Writing is a full-time job, so if you don’t do it full-time, you’re not a writer
- If you’re not published, you’re not a writer
- If you’re not paid to do your writing, you’re not a writer
There were many authors who wanted to encourage others to write, to pursue their dream of writing. One of the authors quoted Red Smith and I found the quote to be quite apt, to say the least.
Let me try something here…. How about, if you write, you’re a writer?
Is that… too simple?
I think people who consider themselves writers, whether they get paid or not, whether they write full time or not, whether what they write is good or not, are writers. Writing is one of our most basic forms of communication, outside of speaking and gesturing. It’s a way of telling a story. It lets us share ideas. We won’t always agree with the ideas of others, we won’t always love other people’s stories. But if one person writes something, and someone else reads it, then I’m sorry to say but that person has become a writer.
There are whole communities of people out there who are writing and not getting paid for it, who write for fun. Consider Wattpad, which didn’t even exist a few years ago, and now boasts over 100 Million stories uploaded, all of them free. Consider the hundreds of thousands of writers writing Fanfiction. Consider the unpublished authors of today who are the bestselling authors of tomorrow. All of them are writers. All.
I wrote over 10 novels “for fun” before I published one. I wrote because, like most other authors, I can’t live without writing. To me, writing is as natural as breathing. I love it, I love crafting stories, coming up with characters. I love imagining new worlds. For a long time, I did it just for me. When I started sharing my stories with others, I found out, hey, other people like my writing too. I started by posting some of my Fanfiction, which ended up getting 10,000 reads within a few months, hundreds of likes and followers. The more people that liked my work, the more I realized, hey, I can do this.
I think Authors are feeling more and more defensive about what constitutes a “writer” because of the preponderance of writing available now, due to new platforms, free content, self-publishing. Instead of waving your flag around and saying, “Wait, I’m a better author than you because I was published! I got paid!” I think we should all just join hands and say, “We all love to read, and we love to write.”
We are all cut from the same cloth – even those writers who forget what it was like when they took their first tentative, wobbly, colt-like steps into the world of writing.