Are You a Writer?

Photo credit: Kitone on Flickr
Some of you may remember a post I wrote way back when titled Ten Indisputable Signs That You’re a Writer. It was a list post I wrote for fun, detailing some quirks that many writers share in common, and overall I had a pretty positive response from you lovely readers. 

Sometime after I posted it, however, the intro of the post was stripped out and someone re-posted it on several sites, and it eventually ended up on tumblr where it exploded a little. Long story short, the version of the post that became popular was a version without the intro, and so my fun list started to sound like a list of qualifying characteristics that you must have to be a writer. Which wasn’t my intention at all. 

I cleared it up to the tumblr community and it all got worked out in the end (yay!), but it made me realize that there are a lot of people out there who believe that there are some sort of lofty requirements to being a writer. 

I want to nip this lie in the bud right now. There is one requirement to being a writer.

Do you know what it is? I bet you can guess. 

The only question you ever need to ask yourself when wondering if you qualify for the title of “writer” is this: do you write? 

If the answer is yes—guess what? You’re a writer. No really. That’s it. 

This is why I don’t agree with the term “aspiring writer.” It’s also why it really hurt me to see people responding to my stripped list post with I guess I’m not a writer. I wanted to reach through the interwebs and hug those people and tell them that if they write and they love to write, then they’re writers. 

You see, there isn’t a panel of highbrow writerly judges that look down their noses at so-called would-be writers and tell them that they aren’t writer enough. As long as you write, there is no such thing as not being writer enough. 

You don’t need to be published to call yourself a writer. You don’t need to have written for x-amount of years or completed several novels (or even a single novel, for that matter). You don’t need to have a successful blog, or a witty Twitter, or hoards of fans to be a writer. 

All you need is your words and your love for language. All you need is a keyboard or pen and paper and the determination to keep writing, even when no one knows or cares that you love to write. 

All you need is you and the courage to say, “I’m a writer.” 

Because that, my friends, is the only requirement that matters.

Now tell me: Are you a writer?

Twitter-sized bites:  
There's only one question you need ask when wondering if you're a writer. Do you know what it is? (Click to tweet
There's only one requirement for being a writer—do you meet it? (Click to tweet)

25 comments:

Erika Ro said...

Thanks for posting this. Sometimes it seems like writing is just worthless, a bunch of words that you strung together. And that string of words isn't as cool as somebody else's or isn't a famous as "that one guy." But writing isn't about the other people, it's about the words, and all it takes to be a writer is to nurture those words, regardless of who else gets to see them. It's good to know that.

Ava Jae said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Erika. Writing isn't an easy road and I think we all feel discouraged from time to time, but as you said, it's not about everyone else's words—it's about yours. Glad to hear that you found this post encouraging—thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Iona said...

I guess I'm a writer then! :)))

Ava Jae said...

:) Fantastic!

Ghadeer said...

I always call myself a Wannabe Writer! This post makes me denounce that title a teeny bit :D

Ava Jae said...

If you write and you love writing, you're already a writer! Toss "wannabe" aside and embrace it! :)

Jen Donohue said...

Eek...one of the reasons I find myself disliking Tumblr; so easy to swipe things without attribution.


I'm a writer. I write all the time. Sometimes people I know read my things. Perhaps one day (perhaps sooner, rather than later?) people I don't know will read my things, and I will get money for it. We'll see!

RoweMatthew said...

The lofty judges are the publishers and you can bypass them now. So who cares?

David Fuller said...

I'm a writer and I totally agree with you. I never liked the term "aspiring writer" either, for the same reasons.
I do, however, keep moving the goalposts for myself, though, when it comes to whether I've achieved my writerly goals and can call myself an author -- first it was to have my fiction published, then it was to have it published and be paid for it; then it was to be published at pro rates; and my dream still is to have a novel published. After that -- a series? :)
I don't qualify other people's accomplishments (ie. hold them to whatever I'm aiming for) as writers, but for some reason I do it to myself.

Ava Jae said...

To be fair to tumblr, it would have ended up on there even if I didn't have an account. The difference is because I do have an account and I follow several writing-related blogs, it eventually showed up on my dashboard, which is what made me aware of it in the first place. But the while attribution thing made me a little sad—if only because while it was there, it was ridiculously small—what really became a problem was that the whole post wasn't shared, so people were misinterpreting it. I'm just glad I was able to clear it up...


As for what you said about writing, that's a good way of looking at it. You most certainly are a writer. :)

Ava Jae said...

I'm not sure that I would say the publishers are judges of this, per say. They don't decide whether or not people are writers, they just decide what books will have wide print distribution. Which is no longer necessarily vital to being a successful writer. Writers have loads of options, which is fantastic.

Ava Jae said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with having goals. :) Just out of curiosity, do you call yourself an author now?

Jen Donohue said...

I think that makes it doubly unfair, that they didn't share the entire post, and thus made it come off in that manner. It must have been disheartening for your words, truncated, to come up on your dashboard like that.


And thank you ^^

David Fuller said...

No. For some reason I see "author" as meaning "having a book published."

Ava Jae said...

I can understand that. I think I view "author" the same way, even though that's not technically correct. Ah well.

Ava Jae said...

At first I figured it wasn't a big deal, and then I saw how some people were interpreting it and that wasn't a fun realization...which was then when I decided I had to say something and hope that the right people saw it. With the help of one of the writing tumblr blogs that pointed out the issue to begin with, a lot of people did see it, so that really helped. :)

Paul Caudell said...

I don't like that either, I think though for some people it's a defensive mechanism so that their writing isn't judged on the same level as professionals. I certainly know I've got a lot to learn before I feel like a writer...finishing my novel is my goal.

David Fuller said...

I suspect it's a feeling that never goes away. I can well imagine that when I eventually have a book or two published, I'll still be looking up to other writers and thinking "How can I get my writing to be THAT GOOD? When I do, THEN I'll feel like a real author...." I'm OK with that.

Ava Jae said...

I can understand not wanting to be judged like a pro. I think the key is accepting that every writer is on a different skill level—even those who have been published have a lot to learn. Writing, like many fields, is an area where you never really stop learning, and thus you're never really a "master" of the field. We're all learning together. :)

Ava Jae said...

I think you're probably right. There's always room for improvement, and we'll likely always look to others as an example of excellence.

Andi-Roo said...

I'm a writer. I write. I don't write all the time {except in my head; I write non-stop in that location}. I don't write exceptionally well. I don't get paid to write. My writing doesn't appear in print or on bookshelves. I'm not as prolific or disciplined as I'd like. I don't follow through on my writing. All this to say, I have several reasons I could dodge the title and avoid calling myself a writer, but that's not the whole story. I write. <-- AND THAT'S IT. I'm a writer.

Ava Jae said...

This is great! I love it. Thank you so much for sharing, Andi. You are indeed a writer. :)

Emily Scott said...

Awesome way of putting it! I never stop writing in my head...it drives my husband crazy because I'm always hundreds of miles away.

Andi-Roo said...

haha... Emily, my hubz and my 8yo daughter are both eternally snapping their fingers in front of my glazed eyes, saying something like, "Helloooo? Earth to mom? Anybody there?" I'm always hundreds of miles away, myself. You and I must have a cabin in the same neck of the imaginary woods.

Ava Jae said...

That seems to be the price for an overactive imagination. :)

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