Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Ah, the age-old dilemma: I write, but I’m not published. Can I call myself a writer? I’m a blogger… am I a writer? I’ve submitted projects to agents and publishers, with no bites yet. Can I claim I’m a “real writer”?
I’ve seen numerous answers to these questions. Some are simplistic: Do you write? Then you’re a writer. Others are more complex. I’ve been thinking about the question quite a bit, and the answer came to me last week while on a hike with a friend. She’s a professional counselor, writes on her blog, and occasionally submits articles to publications. Yet she was struggling with whether to call herself a writer. As we talked it through, I was able to crystallize my thoughts. I told her:
When you have allowed someone to edit your work, and you’ve made changes that improve the work, I believe you can legitimately call yourself a writer.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Anybody can write a first draft and call it good. But when you’ve submitted your words to someone else’s editing pen, and considered their suggestions, and thoughtfully gone back through and made it the best it can be, you’re doing the real work of a writer. You’ve gone through the crucible of “rewriting,” which many authors believe is where the real writing happens.
There’s plenty of room for disagreement, but I think this is a prerequisite that is both necessary and sufficient for calling yourself a writer.
In case a single criteria is not enough for you, I thought of a couple more we could add. See how these strike you:
- Writing is a regular part of your life. You crank out words daily, weekly or monthly.
- Somebody, somewhere, has said “yes” to your writing and agreed to feature it in a public space, to be read by others. Somewhere other than your own blog or website. (Paid or not.) -OR- You have self-published and people are paying actual money for your work.
So what do you think? Do you agree/disagree with my criteria? What allows YOU to call yourself a writer (or not)?
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