A lot of people label themselves “writer.” Fewer people label themselves “author.” With so many hanging out writer signs and claiming author titles, it gets hard to distinguish who’s who. Today I thought I’d give my two-cents on this topic. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions too.
Who deserves the title of writer?
Donna Kohlstrom asked this thought-provoking question: “Is it enough to call yourself a writer when you do it only for self satisfaction and the pleasure of sharing it with others? Or are you only a writer if you are published and won contests?”
Like many of you, I started writing when I was young. I didn’t necessarily call myself a writer. All I knew is that I loved writing stories. But then there comes a point in our lives when we begin to feel pressure to don a title, to define ourselves in some way.
Somewhere along the way, I decided “writer” was a defining piece of who I am. I think it was after I tried to walk away from it, tried to be passionate about doing something else, but couldn’t. Nothing else was as fulfilling, and invariably the desire to write kept tugging me until I returned to it. That’s when I finally gave myself permission to call myself a writer. I loved doing it, my brain was wired for it, it was a part of me that would never go away.
I wrote for quite a few years and began pursuing publication. Then after my twins were born I took a long hiatus where I didn’t write except to journal. The funny thing was that during those many years, I still referred to myself as a writer. I didn’t shed the title just because I wasn’t writing. I saw myself as a writer, even though I wasn’t writing.
Likewise, just because someone is writing, doesn’t mean they’re a writer. Maybe they’re going through the motions, putting words on paper, even getting something published. Perhaps it’s more of a project, a hobby, or short term pursuit.
If I make a quilt or two, would I call myself a quilter? If I take pictures of my kids, does that really make me a photographer?
My test is to decide if it’s something I’m passionate about and defines a part of who I am. If it is, then I embrace the title for all its worth.
Who deserves the title of author?
Is there a difference between the titles of writer and author? Do they refer to one and the same person? Or is the title author reserved for someone who is published? T. Anne asked this question on her blog a couple weeks ago and it really got me thinking.
By definition an author is: 1. One who originates or create. 2. The writer of a literary work.
Here’s what I’ve finally concluded: The title “author” belongs to anyone who creates a literary work whether they’re published or not. Author has more to do with the originator, the one who creates the masterpiece (whether it’s poetry or a painting or whatever).
When I completed my first story, I became an author. I’d created something. Maybe it wasn’t of publishable quality. But I’d birthed it and ushered it into the world. I was the author or creator of the book.
I put the title Author on the top of my blog many months ago. I put it on the first business cards I designed. I saw myself as an author long before getting an agent or book contract.
Here’s my parting advice: If we’re passionate about writing and it defines who we are, and if we’re creating our own works—then we should stand tall and proud and call ourselves what we are: Writers AND Authors.
Claim it. Believe in it. Don’t be afraid to say it to the world. Because if we think of ourselves in positive ways and have confidence in who we are, we’re much more likely to succeed.
Now it’s your turn! I want to hear your opinions! Who deserves the titles of writer and author? Do you agree with the way I’ve defined the two? Or would you describe them differently?