My Writers Circle

Writing => All the Write Questions => Topic started by: deborahowen on August 14, 2011, 04:51:25 AM

Title: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 14, 2011, 04:51:25 AM
I did a blog on this once and folks had strong thoughts on it.

A writer is one who writes - so... is a new unpublished writer a writer?
Or do you think a person can be called a writer when he/she has been
published in a newspaper?
Or is that not good enough? Does it require writing a book and selling it the traditional way?
What about writing a book and self-pubbling? Is that person "a writer"?

In your mind, where is that division? Personally, I vote for the first one. I don't
believe a writer has to be published anywhere to call himself/herself a writer.
Many years ago one of my lessons told me to say aloud, "I am a writer," three
times every day for a week. That little exercise did a lot to make me believe in
myself.

How do you cast your vote?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Gyppo on August 14, 2011, 05:11:55 AM
Once you realise it's a part of you.  Not just what you do for a living or even a hobby, but an essential part part of what makes you tick.

Up until then you're just a person who writes, in much the same way as you can be a person who drives a car, or works in a bakery.  But once you instinctively identify yourself as a Writer, Driver, Baker, or whatever your 'thing' is, with an implied capital, then you've arrived.

I've never heard anyone describing themselves as an Ex-Writer.  I've heard people say "I don't write much these days", or "I've not written for ages."   But you'll often hear self declared ex-drivers, ex-bakers, etc.

Publication makes you an author, which isn't necessarily the same thing.  That's just a sign that other people recognise your ability.

Gyppo
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: SharonLeigh on August 14, 2011, 05:31:32 AM
Hi Deb,

It`s a bit similar to what you & I discussed in pm... I know your stance on it, ( :) ) yet I still feel It wasn`t until I was actually paid for my writing that I felt I could say `I`m a writer`. Up to that point, it would be an aside, as in answer to someone questioning my hobbies: `Oh, I write`.  (after answering `what do you do?`  with: `I`m a dental assistant`)  :p  Once I`d earned $$, however, I felt I`d earned the right to say `I`m a writer`.  I`m still reluctant to say it, however, because people seem to quickly want you to quantify the statement.. and I`m definitely not in the big times, Heh!   :-D

Never mind the fact that I`ve been writing since childhood  ;)  For most of us, it`s in our blood.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 14, 2011, 06:34:12 AM
Once you realise it's a part of you.  Not just what you do for a living or even a hobby, but an essential part part of what makes you tick. Gyppo


Oh, I like this. And Sharon makes a good point, too. I guess we all arrive at different points in our life.

Have you noticed that most people expect you to write and traditionally sell a book before THEY call you a writer?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Skip Slocum on August 14, 2011, 07:08:45 AM
When someone other than my wife or mother wants to turn the page.

Skip
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Vienna on August 14, 2011, 07:14:41 AM
wen me gran tol me that's wot ah are and me riting is grate. ah love her , me gran
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Spell Chick on August 14, 2011, 08:04:18 AM
I write and am published in a variety of places, most of them non-ruminative. I'm a writer because I write. I found a place to actually pay me to write the stuff that I normally give away for free. I don't know if that makes me now an author or not.

I love the written word. No one ever questions when we become readers. Is it when we can look at C-A-T and know it is a cat? Is it when we read our first book with all the picture hints? Does it have to be a book without pictures and completely read? Are we then readers?

I believe you are a writer when you 1. do it without provocation (it isn't an assignment from a teacher) and 2. other people read it (it isn't your dairy or journal). There may need to be something about it being a complete work in itself. Posting to Twitter, Facebook, or any number of Forums doesn't make you a writer. It makes you a speaker using a medium requiring text rather than speech.

The problem with being a writer is that as soon as you say you are one, someone wants to know what you write and where they can see/buy it. So you better have a place where they can at least see it, if not buy it.

BTW, I have contributed to anthologies put out by MWC and while technically these are also non-paid pieces, the books themselves were sold for actual cash money. So I don't know exactly how to categorize these short stories. I was not paid, but someone paid to read them. 
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Hugh on August 14, 2011, 09:21:01 AM
I remember being introduced to someone, with the comment, “He’s a writer.”

I could almost hear the cogs turning in the person’s mind . . .”What was the name again?”

Then came the inevitable question, “What do you write?”

When I said magazine and newspaper articles, and short stories, the response was typical: “Oh.”

She had never heard of me, I didn’t write best-selling novels, so I was evidently not a proper writer, merely a sort of journalist. But I wasn’t a journalist. I was a freelance writer, and a spare time one at that. I also edited two newsletters for voluntary organisations, was press officer for one, but that didn’t make me a writer.

One woman I know of has had umpteen novels published, all by Mills & Boon. No-one has heard of her, probably even most M & B readers. Does that make her less of a writer than Hemingway, who, incidentally, was a journalist, as were many who became famous novelists?

Publication is not the only measure of success, although it is, of course, a measure that a professional editor believes that enough readers will want to read your story to make it worth buying.

I personally don’t include self-publishing, in that anyone can have any old rubbish printed. Or put it in a blog on the Internet, which is unfortunate, as there is no control over the content. Some of the dreadful stuff you see in some blogs lowers the image of blogging generally, to the detriment of those who produce interesting, informative and well-written blogs.

But that’s enough soap boxing.

Anyone who writes can call themselves a writer. But if they haven’t bothered to learn the basics of grammar, spelling and punctuation, or how to craft a piece that someone other than their favourite auntie might want to read, in my opinion they are deluding themselves. 

When I was running writing classes I usually asked a new group why they were there. “Why do you want to write?”

There were all sorts of answers, but one woman said, “I don’t know. I just do.”

Guess who turned out to be the best writer.

But what do I know? Throughout my working life I was driven by the need to provide for my family, not by the compulsion to write. So evidently I’m not a writer.

Hugh
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Joe Mynhardt on August 14, 2011, 01:27:46 PM
She had never heard of me, I didn’t write best-selling novels, so I was evidently not a proper writer, merely a sort of journalist.

It's just like actors. There are millions of actors, but only a few are well known.

I agree with Gyppo about writing being a part of you, but I'll only talk to other people about my stories when the topic
comes up. I don't want to sound full of myself, so I just keep it quiet.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 14, 2011, 01:29:28 PM
When someone other than my wife or mother wants to turn the page. Skip

Ha! Know the feeling. Never let family read your work unless they're very supportive and not
critical. Does such a family exist? I've founded two writing schools and have been published
multiple times but my mother says, "You're not a writer. You haven't written a book."

That was an important lesson for me. I learned that my self-esteem and success don't
depend on someone else's attitude. If you don't believe in yourself, you're not a writer.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Joe Mynhardt on August 15, 2011, 09:32:44 AM
In my heart I actually feel more at home being a writer than a teacher. But until I make writing my full time job,
I'll always just say that I'm a teacher when asked. Oh, well. Just another goal to work towards.  :)
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Motley on August 15, 2011, 10:19:09 AM
I've considered myself a writer from the moment I got halfway through my first novel's first draft. At this point, the word carries more weight because I'm a published writer of both non-fiction articles and short stories. Once I have a novel published I can tack on the title, "author" and then I will know I have arrived.  ;D
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 15, 2011, 11:10:29 AM
In my heart I actually feel more at home being a writer than a teacher. But until I make writing my full time job,
I'll always just say that I'm a teacher when asked. Oh, well. Just another goal to work towards.  :)

Your frame of mind is something more than urgent. If I were you, I'd say, "I'm a teacher and a writer, and no, I don't
teach writing. I teach ________." (You can always predict that question.)

I have four loves in life. Sorry. Hubby didn't make the cut. lol

1. The Lord
2. Educator
3. Writing
4. Musician
5. Well, hubby had to get in here somewhere. He's a 52-year habit.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Joe Mynhardt on August 15, 2011, 01:53:39 PM
I have four loves in life. Sorry. Hubby didn't make the cut. lol

1. The Lord
2. Educator
3. Writing
4. Musician
5. Well, hubby had to get in here somewhere. He's a 52-year habit.

You basically just described me. Only difference is I have a wife of 4 years and my guitar playing has gotten a bit
rusty since I started writing.  :D
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 15, 2011, 02:05:32 PM
You basically just described me. Only difference is I have a wife of 4 years and my guitar playing has gotten a bit
rusty since I started writing.  :D

Know what you mean. My writing comes before everything, including laundry and meals.
I live in an RV and had to give up my piano. A keyboard just doesn't cut the mustard but
it's all I have. Think I'll shop for a Yamaha for my birthday.  :-)
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Vienna on August 15, 2011, 02:11:16 PM
I am probably a bit stupid but which of the many Lords are you on about?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Annmarie on August 15, 2011, 02:24:02 PM
I talked about this question with my husband recently. I told him I can imagine some day *not* being a journalist anymore.

I will never stop being a (fiction) writer. I tried and I was miserable every day. Guess it's a vocation. I should be off to practise it now.  :)



Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on August 16, 2011, 02:44:40 AM
I am probably a bit stupid but which of the many Lords are you on about?
Don't think I understand your question. Who is it directed to?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: thatollie on August 16, 2011, 07:28:56 PM
I am probably a bit stupid but which of the many Lords are you on about?

Lord Jim?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Luana Spinetti on September 01, 2011, 03:24:09 AM
I call myself a writer because I can't bear with the possibility of not being able to write, nor of being denied that (that'd be worst kind of torture). If I had both my hands cut I would still use my feet to write.

I ended up training my left hand to write, however a little shaky, when I hurt my right hand in primary school. I can count on both hands nowadays.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Vienna on September 01, 2011, 05:56:10 AM
Your frame of mind is something more than urgent. If I were you, I'd say, "I'm a teacher and a writer, and no, I don't
teach writing. I teach ________." (You can always predict that question.)

I have four loves in life. Sorry. Hubby didn't make the cut. lol

1. The Lord
2. Educator
3. Writing
4. Musician
5. Well, hubby had to get in here somewhere. He's a 52-year habit.



Number 1) The Lord?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: junel on September 01, 2011, 08:38:18 AM
I suppose I wont be calling myself a writer until I can get quit the day job ... but secretly, inside, I'll be calling myself a writer till then, though not to others.  :D
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Annmarie on September 01, 2011, 01:45:34 PM
I suppose I wont be calling myself a writer until I can get quit the day job ... but secretly, inside, I'll be calling myself a writer till then, though not to others.  :D

This doesn't happen that often, Junel, so you better start calling yourself a writer now.  :)
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: junel on September 01, 2011, 03:04:21 PM
This doesn't happen that often, Junel, so you better start calling yourself a writer now.  :)

I see the logic ... makes sense ... okay, I'm a writer then! Woo hoo ... I got there much earlier than I thought. Thanks Annmarie  ;D
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: heidi52 on September 01, 2011, 04:12:50 PM
Artists ask themselves the same question when starting out. Lots of long answers but the short one is

You are an "artist" or a "writer" when you believe you are.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: sara on September 01, 2011, 04:42:12 PM
I agree, being a writer depends on how much you believe it.

Although, having said that my day job is being a writer for a company writing anything and everything they need from content, press, blogging to letters and business documents. So I suppose I can call myself a writer because it is my day job and my part time freelance job/hobby too.

I'm not sure I would be as confident telling people I was a writer if I didn't do it for a day job.

Not to say that I wouldn't feel as if I was a writer, I just may be more reluctant to tell everyone if I wasn't getting a salary for it, but that's just me.

Its a tough one, if you feel you are a writer, then you are...

Celebrate it...  ;D


Sara
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on September 01, 2011, 05:08:46 PM
Artists ask themselves the same question when starting out. Lots of long answers but the short one is

You are an "artist" or a "writer" when you believe you are.

The right answer! *ding *ding *ding Heidi gets first prize! More specifically, you're a writer when you reach for it, when you believe in yourself, when you step into your dreams and make them a reality - whether that be by hobby writing, pursuing courses, or actually selling your work.

Until you step out, you aren't a writer. Being a writer doesn't depend on diplomas, talent, or paid assignments. If it depended on talent, I've seen raw newbs who could write better than some of my instructors. That's the truth. And the instructor I have in mind made a living by writing.

Stretch yourself! Reach for what you want! If you don't, you'll never catch your star. Who cares what other people think? It pains me to say my own mother scorns me for calling myself a writer. She says, "Neither of my children had any talent." I had to get past that before I could take my place among writers. If you don't believe in yourself, don't expect anyone else to.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on September 01, 2011, 05:21:37 PM
I'm not sure I would be as confident telling people I was a writer if I didn't do it for a day job... I just may be more reluctant to tell everyone if I wasn't getting a salary for it, but that's just me. Its a tough one, if you feel you are a writer, then you are... Celebrate it...  ;D

Good point, Sara. I would be the first to admit that there are levels within the writing world - and all other realms of the world. Writers can try to fool themselves into thinking they're Stephen King if they so desire, but it never worked for me. Just knowing that I can be the best I can be is good enough for me, because I don't compare myself to anyone.

I'm an individual with gifts and traits that come in no other package, because there's no one else like me. I'm thankful for that. I like being different. But whether or not you like being different, you are. No one else is like you. No one else has your DNA, fingerprints, footprints, dental signature, or iris. You are one of a kind. The trick is to be the best one of a kind that you can be.

If you're looking at frogs, you see big frogs, little frogs, and tadpoles, but all are frogs. Never deny yourself your "writeful" place in life by limiting yourself or succumbing to someone else's small ideas. I promise you this - you can be more than you ever thought you could be.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Ivana on September 01, 2011, 05:30:16 PM
Great question...I don't feel comfortable calling myself a writer yet, as I haven't published anything nor do I have much to share yet but people who know I'm writing call me one...does that count?  ???
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: heidi52 on September 01, 2011, 05:46:22 PM
when you reach for it, when you believe in yourself, when you step into your dreams and make them a reality

Words to live by no matter what. It's amazing what you can do if you believe you can. (Forgive me I know it's cliched)

I personally think it is one of the secrets to a happy life.

Never perfect but it can be good. Very good sometimes.  ;)
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: heidi52 on September 01, 2011, 05:55:12 PM
people who know I'm writing call me one...does that count?  ???

Yes Ma'am. And double yes if them saying affirms what you want to do. It's a gift, accept it.

you wouldn't be here if you didn't want to write.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on September 01, 2011, 06:07:10 PM
Great question...I don't feel comfortable calling myself a writer yet, as I haven't published anything nor do I have much to share yet but people who know I'm writing call me one...does that count?  ???

May I throw the question back to you?
Is that good enough?
Or do you want to think of yourself as a writer?
Does your success lie in what someone else thinks?
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Ivana on September 01, 2011, 06:24:55 PM
Does your success lie in what someone else thinks?

No, absolutely not...I've been writing for a long time, and writing much, but felt that I had to live up to some expectations to call myself a writer. Like, having short stories published, or as someone mentioned, actually make money. Damn, have a finished and polished first draft ready to pitch.

Being a writer and hopefully a published author is one of the main goals in my life. To myself, yes, I could say I'm a writer. But I guess I need to push farther to be worthy of that tittle. Knowing I'm not there yet makes me cautious about using it for myself :)
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: deborahowen on September 01, 2011, 06:41:37 PM
No, absolutely not...I've been writing for a long time, and writing much, but felt that I had to live up to some expectations to call myself a writer... To myself, yes, I could say I'm a writer. But I guess I need to push farther to be worthy of that tittle. Knowing I'm not there yet makes me cautious about using it for myself :)

My mom used to call this "talking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time."
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (There's actually a Biblical answer for that.)
But the point is, you have to think of yourself as a writer before you can become one. I
understand how you're thinking because I used to have the same mentality, but it will kill you
before you get dead. You have to think yourself into the next realm or you'll never get there. It
comes back to this - don't ask someone else to believe in you before you believe in yourself! This
isn't just good advice, honey, it's critical to your thinking.

Being a writer doesn't start on paper, or with a paycheck. It starts in your mind.

Whee! Don't know about you guys, but this is like a writer's revival. You young writers are more
than you give yourselves credit for. Go ahead. Get brave. I dare you to tell someone in casual
conversation within the next three days, "I'm a writer." Yes, you'll get questions... "What have
you written? Who do you write for? How long have you been a writer? What do you write? Does
it pay well?"

And perhaps that's why beginners shy from saying they're writers. Your answers can be: "I haven't
been writing long and I haven't sold anything yet, but I'm taking that step forward by claiming my
right. By Webster's definition, a writer is one who writes. Well, I'm writing. And now I'm taking it
seriously."

But when you take that stand, you instinctively know you'll have to answer to people because they'll
be watching you. "Are you still writing? What have you written lately?" To step out and claim your
title, you must be prepared to share your progress... and do it fearlessly. Be prepared for scoffers - and
I can tell you right now that most of them will be your family and friends. People in the work place and
everyday life will usually say, "I always wanted to do that." If you don't turn a deaf ear to family and
friends (and never let them read your work), you'll be frying yourself in hot oil. *sizzle* You go, girl!
You can do this.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Luana Spinetti on September 03, 2011, 08:06:07 AM
Oh my, I'm falling in love with deborahowen's incredibly encouraging posts! ;D

Ivana, you are a writer because you have something to tell and you enjoy writing about that something. You write, hence you are a writer. It's that simple. :) Thinking of yourself as a writer doesn't mean turning into an arrogant self-centered person who thinks to be the best writer in the world. Every art requires its amount of humility, but humble doesn't mean get-your-self-esteem-down-because-you-are-unworthy.

An example: when I attended a three-year course in comic book art, my teachers used to tell us "Being a comic artist means having the humility to recognize other artists' incredible talent and learn from them. But it also means being so proud of your craft that every single success should push you to do better and better. Because you are an artist."

Novels, short stories and comic book stories are all human art to be proud of. :) At any stage.
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: Wolfe on September 06, 2011, 06:29:31 PM
You're a writer if you write.

There's some confusion between the different catorgies: amateur, wannabe, freelancer, professional, and Name.

Amateurs write for fun.

Wannabes write toward payment.

Freelancers get payed.

Professionals get advances.

Names get advances all the others envy.

They are all writers. Again, if you write, so are you.

Wolfe
Title: Re: At what point do you call yourself a writer?
Post by: MichaelCraigBibby on September 06, 2011, 07:23:22 PM
Then I'm a Amateur Writer  ;D  

Never called myself a Writer before, it feels good  ;)