What does it mean to be a writer?

Okay, I’ve been reading quite a few pins on pinterest about how to define a writer. You probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Here are a few examples:

“If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t, you’re a writer.” -R.A. Salvatore

“A writer is someone who has taught their mind to misbehave.” -Oscar Wilde

“A writer is someone who spends years trying to discover the second being inside of him.” -Orhan Pamuk

“A real writer doesn’t just want to write, a real writer has to write.” -Alan Moore

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight.” -Ursula K. Le Guin

So what if you have quit before? (I have? Then I picked it back up.) What if you are still teaching your mind to misbehave? What if it doesn’t take you years to discover the second being inside of you, but you have always known and welcomed that other half of you? What if you just want to write because you enjoy it? What if you write without care or thought, but throw words down on a page haphazardly? (That one’s not me, but it might be you.)

Sometimes the ideas getting in the way of us calling ourselves something, whether it’s a writer, runner, musician, or something else, are not words by masters of the craft, but rather comments by a community of people. They try to restrict the definiton of this activity in order to make it more elite, and thus making themselves feel better about who they are. (I can define myself as an avid outdoors-man. See? I have all the equipment, knives, and camping gear to prove it! Plus, I drive a Jeep.)

I have always felt second rate when it came to writing. Growing up, I did well in my English classes, but they did not always come naturally to me. I enjoyed telling stories, but I didn’t always deliver them properly. When I’m writing my novel(s), my prose has a tendency to be awkward. I try too hard. Even if you can’t relate, surely, you know what I mean.

Writers, just like artists and musicians, come in all forms. We create something beautiful, and beauty has a different definition to each person.

The world would be a boring place if the only type of artist were those like Michelangelo. I suspect many people would not identify so strongly with music if the only style that existed was Baroque.

And what about this one. Dancers have very slender bodies—no dancer should be big. Self-proclaimed Fat Dancer challenged that belief and kept dancing anyway.

Labels can be dangerous. Some of the greatest people of our society are those who broke the mold of what came before. If you want to write, you should.

So what about this one?:

“A writer is someone who has something to say and writes it down.”

It’s as simple as that, no “just”s, no “but”s, no other defining characteristics.

If you’re feeling like you’re not a real writer, I challenge you to break through your preconceived notions that a writer is only _______________. You can be a writer. All you have to do is write.

So what about you? Do you have an activity or time in your life that you felt left out of a community because you did not define yourself in the same way as everyone else?

Share your stories in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

And as always, happy writing!


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