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Am I a Writer Yet? (When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?)

Updated on December 17, 2020
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John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He loves story-telling and also has a Certificate in Permaculture Design.

Am I a Writer Yet?
Am I a Writer Yet? | Source

To be a serious writer requires discipline that is iron-fisted. It’s sitting down and doing it whether you think you have it in you or not. Everyday. Alone. Without interruption. Contrary to what most people think, there is no glamour to writing. In fact, it’s heartbreak most of the time

— Harper Lee

Writer: Definition defines the word writer as follows:

  1. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.
  2. a clerk, scribe, or the like.

There are a few other minor definitions but I think the above two are the most appropriate and accepted forms of the term.

Anyone who is reasonably literate can write (especially with eBooks and self-publishing), but it takes much more than that to actually be entitled to call yourself a writer. I am not trying to be judgemental here but I have read books, stories and poetry by some people who refer to themselves as writers, and I think, "What! You must be joking!"

I spent 17 years employed as a Clerk with the Railways Department, but would not have considered writing as an adequate description of 90% of the work I was employed to do. My writing is not perfect as I have no real formal study or qualification in literature, however finally, I have reached a stage in life, and feel I am publishing written works of high enough quality and quantity to be confident of calling myself a writer.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

— Stephen King

The Fight to Write

What does writing mean to you?

Is it just for recreation?

Or is writing your career

And done for wealth creation?

For me, it is my passion,

Though success I can't yet brag.

Each day I look to be inspired,

Without it life's a drag.

Creative writing is my love,

Poetry turns me on,

Freelance writing earns some cash,

Short fiction is the bomb.

With pen in hand I feel complete,

No matter where I go.

Without it I am at a loss,

I need to write to grow.

I started writing late in life,

Young adulthood just flew.

Work and play took up my time,

I didn't have a clue.

I wrote one poem or two a year,

Maybe to impress a certain girl,

Or some fiction just for fun.

My life was in a whirl.

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.

— J.D. Salinger

Life went on but writing lacked,

I gave it little thought,

Other priorities took its place,

Like career, parties, and sport.

Then married life and children came,

No spare hours in a day.

I had to put my family first,

My need to write was put at bay.

As the years went by the urge stayed strong.

I never lost the drive.

One day I would have time to write,

For that day I would strive.

As I approach my 50th year,

Children now off my hands,

The time had come to live my dream,

So to write I took a stand.

I started writing poems online,

And joined the HubPage crew.

It took three years to become known,

But my confidence it grew.

Now I'm writing every day,

With freelance work as well.

I have one published eBook

But more I'd like to sell.

Now I have a website,

Please listen to my pitch,

For poetry and fiction.

It fills a needed niche.

I've finally realised my goal

But I had to be a fighter,

To get paid for doing what I love

And call myself a writer.

So, Are You a Writer?

I have been in a number of discussions recently on the question of how to determine if you can legitimately claim the title of writer. The most popular consensus seems to be that you are entitled to call yourself a writer if you get paid for what you write.

I can't say I totally agree with that because I personally know some very good writers who say they do it just for pleasure and have never been paid. Others have won poetry or fiction writing contests which is enough of an accolade to be able to label yourself a writer. Anyway, this isn't how to write an article. It is just my take on how to decide whether or not you can, in fact, call yourself a writer when people ask you what your profession is, or what you do for a living. At first, I was uncomfortable doing this and answering the questions that followed e.g. "What do you write?" or "Do you get paid for it?"

If you want advice on how to write or answers to any questions you may have about the writing process, I recommend you check out Bill Holland's excellent Writer's Mailbag series of articles.

© 2016 John Hansen


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