Posted by: Fiona Skye | 30 December 2009

What Makes You Certain You’re A Writer?

Cassandra Jade, blogger of thought-provoking questions, has another poll over at her site and one of the questions that was asked (not on the poll, but in the comments) was what makes one certain that s/he is a writer? I think this is a fabulous question and would like to pose it to my readers as well as address it myself.

I think honestly, that everyone is a writer, but not everyone can be an author.  What’s the difference?  A writer is someone who is capable of stringing together thoughts and ideas in a coherent fashion.  If you can successfully convey something to someone else through the written word, you’re a writer.

To be an author, however, I believe you have to be able to not only string together thoughts and ideas, but you have to do it in an enjoyable way.  You have to tell a story that evokes some sort of reaction from your readers – either an emotional reaction or perhaps a physical one.

You have to be able to create a world with your words and people it with believable inhabitants.  You must be able to create characters that resonate with your readers, characters that we can relate to for one reason or another.

You must be able to use words in such a way that your readers can feel and see and touch and smell and taste what you’re writing about.  We want to smell the flowers your protagonist gives to his significant other.  We want to feel the coldness of the knife blade the bad guy sinks into the gut of his victim.  We want to taste the mead your adventurers drink while they sit around the camp fire the night before the big battle with the evil wizard.

To be an author, you must make your readers laugh or cry or get really, really angry.  You have to make us care about why your baddie is the way he is, why your goodie does what she does.  And the only way to do any of this is through your words.

That is the difference between being a writer and being an author.  Anyone can write, but not everyone can write stories.  Once you can write an evocative story, you’re an author and no longer just a writer.

So what do you guys think?  What makes you certain you’re a writer?  Is there a difference between being a writer and being an author?  What is that difference, if there is one?



  1. Hi Fiona 🙂
    I like this post.
    Very apt description of the difference between a writer and an author. In my mind I also call myself a writer because I am unpublished. I will call myself an author once I have my book in the bookstore.
    Here’s to a great 2010!
    All the best,

  2. Thanks for the link to the poll. I kind of always saw writers as people who liked and enjoyed writing and did it regularly while authors were those who got paid for it.

  3. I considered myself a writer when I got one piece published. I considered myself an author when I got two articles placed in different publications and was paid for them.

    I considered myself an artist when I became pen pals with some school children in Mississippi. Some of the kids were so touched that a ‘famous’ writer would pay attention to them they decided to study harder.

    I called my agent. “We have to correct this. Man, I’m not a famous writer.”

    He said, “You are now, because you have touched someone you did not know with your written words.”

    Those kids hooked me forever.

    Dr. B

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