Author vs. Aspiring Writer

Hi Readers,

While I’m getting my head screwed on right after being away for five days I’m posting this. Then next week I’ll tell you all about the book festival I went to. I may even have some photos.

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Today I have a question for you. I have been thinking about this for some time. Tell me what you think.

What makes a writer? An author? Is it necessary to be published to call ourselves real writers? What is this thing called aspiring writer? Is this a career? I wonder what it takes to call ourselves real writers and authors.

“The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment. No other entrepreneurial profession waits for success or outside validation before they feel comfortable using a professional title. A dog-walker doesn’t wait. Neither does a gardener, a contractor, a party planner, florist, cake decorator, or a carpet cleaner”  Kristen Lamb

Writers show what they are, they don’t tell. If you sit down every day and write whether the fancy strikes or not then you can claim to be a writer. Then you are a real writer.  When you schedule your writing time, when you put in the hours or the pages or words. Then you are a real writer.

One blogger said it required finishing projects. One said it required having works, whether it was blogs or manuscripts. But they both agreed that the word aspiring was for pansies.

I feel when one sits down every day and writes then we are real writers. We are writing aren’t we? How do you feel about it? Does one have to be published to be a real writer? What do you think? When can we call ourselves authors? Please weigh in at the comments.

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About clarbojahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" celebrating life one hour at a time. Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Am also one author in anthology "The 'I' Word" edited by Kate Gould on Kindle.
This entry was posted in blogging, Clara Bowman-Jahn, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, personal growth, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Author vs. Aspiring Writer

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Here you go! I made a post on this not too long ago, actually! http://kaitlinandmichaelbranch.com/2012/03/09/i-am-a-writer/

  2. Good question, Clar! I think if you write, you’re a writer. No aspiring about it. No publishing necessary. But I think because it’s a field of such personal endeavor that it’s much harder to tell people about unless you feel like you have some validation in the form of product or publishing credits. If someone sees you walking a dog, they assume you’re a dog walker. But if you tell someone you write, the first thing they ask is, “Have you been published?” or “What have you written that I would know?” and that can make you feel awkward to answer! Maybe it’s a self-confidence thing… and many writers I know are prone to self-doubt :) I personally didn’t have the wherewithal to tell people I was a writer until my fourth book was published, even though I’ve been a writer since I was 4!

    • clarbojahn says:

      lol, Susanna. so true!
      We are writers because we write not because we are published. And then we are asked if our book is at the bookstore. lol

      I guess by your definition I ‘ve been a writer since age eleven when I got an A on a creative writing paper and I showed it to my mom. Thanks for weighing in today. :)

  3. Joanna says:

    I don’t hesitate to call myself a writer, Clar, because so much of my spare time is taken up with this and I plan on being published!! Where I have hesitated is using the word author for myself. However, lately people whom I respect, with years in the business have used the word author to refer to me and others, as yet not published, and I am growing more comfortable with this.

    • clarbojahn says:

      I guess it’s up to each one of us what we call ourselves. I haven’t called my self author because my book wasn’t out yet but I’ve been writing a journal since age fifteen. Does that count? By your definition I certainly am a writer.

      Thanks for commenting and stopping by. :)

  4. Maybe the difference is that some writers refer to themselves as ‘published’ writers while others use the more humble ‘writer’. It reminds me of my favorite BBQ rubb creator called, “Stubbs”. While others in his field like to be addressed as “Chef” ‘Ol Subbs proudly prints on each label, “Lady’s and Gentelman, I am a cook!”

  5. suzicate says:

    I have friends who seldom put pen to paper and have never been published yet they have no problem calling themselves writers while I have friends who write daily and have been published who struggle to claim the title. Myself? I write daily and in my heart I am a writer. I have been published, but I don’t do it as career so when people ask me what I do I NEVER say I’m a writer. I guess I don’t because if I claim it people will want to know my publications and really who wants to be compared to Stephen King or John Grisham…they are what people instantly think when you say writer. I wish I didn’t struggle with feeling whether I’ve earned the “title of writer”. Maybe I should feel more free to say I am a writer and aspire to be an author!

    • clarbojahn says:

      It seems to be the consensus to say what one is comfortable with. I certainly would call you an author if you were published but share in the insecurity of being in the company of Stephen King or John Grisham. IF my book ever comes out maybe i’ll feel brave enough to call myself author to my family. But I see your dilemma. I Like your last sentence of saying you are a writer and aspire to be an author. :)

  6. Widdershins says:

    Ah yes, one of the writerly ‘Eternal Questions’ … If we write we are writers, but do we have to auth to be an author?

    I’m a writer by profession, and the author of ‘Mortal Instinct’.

    Perhaps the dilemma is not whether we are or aren’t writers/authors, but where we put being one on our hierarchy of self-definitions … ‘cos we wear so many hats so much of the time, and whole bunches of ‘em at the same time.

    • clarbojahn says:

      Well put, Widder.

      It’s in those self-definitions that get us to wrangling with these role makers. Thanks for weighing in with your comment. :)

  7. I believe if you write because you love it, you are a writer. But, I have always called myself a writer because I was a journalist — it’s the author bit that’s a little tough for me. A lot of people have entered interesting comments, and I’ve enjoyed reading the discussion.

    Can’t remember the release date for Annie, but Donna Martin (On the Write Track) is attending a big Children’s Festival of Reading in Knoxville, on May 19. She’s been invited to have a booth and is going to promote authors. She’s asking authors to send autographed copies of their books and she will promote them at her booth — her gift to everyone. I blogged about it yesterday, but you can go directly to her blog. Thought you might like to know.

    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks for both the comment on writers and the tip, Patricia. I’ll contact her as Annie should be out by then. The finishing touches are being taken as we write so to speak. I’ll go read your post and see if I can find her blog if I don’t already subscribe. Maybe I just missed it by traveling, like I missed yours. :)

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  9. Well said, Clar!
    I once heard someone say “you’re not a writer because you say you are. You’re a writer because someone ELSE says you are.”
    Sadly, I believed that for a long time.
    I think a writer is a person who thinks about writing every day, who writes every day, whose world revolves around the written word.
    I am very happy to report that I know a LOT of writers.

    • clarbojahn says:

      Good definition, Rich.
      “I think a writer is a person who thinks about writing every day, who writes every day, whose world revolves around the written word.”
      Thanks for weighing in. :)

  10. I think a writer is someone who can’t “not write.” They live to write!

    • clarbojahn says:

      OK. I’m a writer then. I live to write. Writing is as important as breathing to me. I must write every day or I have a bad day. Or I’m very sick. Thanks for weighing in. :)

  11. Jeremy Kerns says:

    I agree that using the word ‘aspiring’ is a tad silly. The distinction, if any need be made, is probably between writer and ‘published’ writer (or author, depending on your personal tastes). But the term writer is so general and can be used by anyone who writes anything that it all comes down to how you want to describe yourself. And with the ability to be ‘published’ in eBook format at the click of a button, perhaps the only real distinction is between professional (i.e. someone who makes their living from writing) and just plain writer (someone who does it out of love for the craft). Great post, by the way.

    • clarbojahn says:

      This is the most comprehensive comment yet. As I see it coming from the most recent to the former. However as I have learned, it takes a most famous writer/author to be able to make a living from writing. Many authors will hold down second jobs as they write on their lunch hours and on weekends. :)

  12. I agree with Sandra…I can’t help but write! I am constantly thinking of new plots and characters for my books, and love to inspire others with my words. That’s a writer!

    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, I agree. Writing is as important as breathing to me. When I am not actually writing, I’m thinking about it. Some days don’t feel right until I sit down and write. :)

  13. Margot Finke says:

    I think a writer is someone who always writes – not because they must, or because there is a deadline to be met, or that they want to see their name on the best seller list. They are writers because to NOT write is absolutely unthinkable: like not breathing, or not eating.

    If I breathe, I write. If I don’t write I am dead. So bury me please. Just remember to read what I have written, and then remember me by the pleasure, insights. and the sly glee of my word spinning..

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques
    http://www.margotfinke.com

    • clarbojahn says:

      That’s how I feel. Writing is as important as breathing to me. I guess that makes me a writer. I like that my words will survive me. I hope someone reads me once the promotion is done or stops. :)

  14. This is a really good question, Clar. In 2009, I went to Cincinnati with the first 50 pages of my manuscript for review at the Writer’s Digest Editors Intensive weekend. It came as a revelation to me when editors Jane Friedman and Chuck Sambuchino told us if we write, we can officially call ourselves writers. So I began calling myself a writer. It felt a little awkward at first but the more I kept writing and blogging, the more comfortable the term felt. I now feel I have earned the title. In my mind and heart,I am a writer. The way I see it, I can call myself an author when my works become published. This is a great discussion!

    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, I agree. We can call ourselves writers as long as we write. And by your description we are authors when we are published. Cool. :)

  15. I’ll repeat what I said to you a few days ago. You ARE a writer/author, whichever you want to call yourself. It is what you do; what you love to do; what you are. Being published is a wonderful bonus of being a writer. However, even if you are never published, you are a writer; you are an author. No one will convince me otherwise. Embrace it. Own it.

    BTW: I love Donna Martin’s blog (mentioned above). It is On the Write Track http://donasdays.blogspot.com/

  16. I agree, you are a writer if you write, but, for me, I can’t say it of myself until I’m published. I guess that has to do with other peoples perception. You tell someone you’re a writer, the first thing they want to know is what you’ve had published. If you say nothing they kind of look at you strangely lol.

    WHEN I’ve had something published I will be proud to call myself a writer, until then, I’m ‘aspiring’ lol ;)

    Xx

    • clarbojahn says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Unless you’re published you can’t say your an author or drop the aspiring from your title.
      Thanks for weighing in with your comment. :)

  17. msdiamondhill says:

    Nice Post! I believe publishing shows the world that we are real writers otherwise we are if we are serious in our writing habits and I’m not so sure about aspiring writers. I think aspiring writers are also serious but in their own way.

    • clarbojahn says:

      I like Beths comment above where she explains the difference between writer and author for her. I think that is what you are saying, too but in your own way. I agree with it. Thanks for weighing in I appreciate it. :)

  18. I call myself a writer, because I *am* a writer. I write. I do it as my job. I haven’t made much money at it yet, but I still consider it to be the work I do. I occasionally add “pre-published” in an apologetic manner. I need to learn not to be apologetic.

    I tend to think of “author” as a word that describes a relationship with a book. So Dickens was a writer, he is the author of David Copperfield. I am a writer, I am the author of (book title) which is, as yet, unpublished.

    • clarbojahn says:

      That is a wonderful comment, Beth.
      You wrote that very clearly and there is no confusion as to what you mean. Thanks for weighing in. :)

  19. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I think you have to write before you call yourself a writer. That’s really the only requirement — write.

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