Wednesday, March 11, 2020

On Being A Writer

Lately, I’ve been mulling over the question of what it means to be a writer. Most of us write something in the course of a day whether it’s an email, a tweet, a text, a document for work or part of a book or story. Should we all be labeled writers? In some sense, we probably should.

I’d been writing short stories and books for a while before I would answer “I’m a writer” to the question “What do you do?” I hadn’t yet had a story published when I finally declared I was a writer, but I had started sending my stories out for consideration. By doing that, I think I’d changed my mindset from something I was going to try to do to taking it seriously as a career.

So, for me, being a writer means having a certain mindset. Here are some indications you might be a writer that I came up with:
  • You write even on the days you’d rather watch episodes of the Great British Baking Show or Ice Road Truckers.
  • You continue to write even after your publisher cancels your series and you no longer have a deadline.
  • Your characters are so real to you that, when a reviewer complains that a character doesn’t work enough, you immediately start defending her to all who will listen.
  • You read a book or short story differently than before you started writing. You notice how a story is constructed as well as how the writer describes things. You even take notes and jot down a passage you particularly like to study later.
  • Every person you meet, everywhere you go and everything you do is fodder for possible inclusion in a story.
  • You read an article in the newspaper and tuck it away in the back of your mind, thinking that would be interesting to include in a story some day.
  • You have discussions with others or write blog posts about what makes a good character and story.
  • You don’t have to be published to be a writer, but you do take your work seriously and you write regularly.
  • You feel a sense of accomplishment after you finish a book or story or write a particularly fun or interesting scene.
That's my list. What about all of you? What do you think it means to be a writer?


Rick Blechta said...

Gee, Sybil, you make this sound like it's a calling.


I guess it is!

How about this one? Your characters are so real to you that you miss them when you're not working on the story for a few days.

Sybil Johnson said...

I love that, Rick. I really do miss my characters if I haven't "seen" them in a few days.